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Cabinet members praise ‘taxpayer friendly’ policies during Florida TaxWatch State of the Taxpayer dinner

The defining debate of the 2016 Legislative session? Tax cuts.

That was Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s prediction Wednesday during Florida TaxWatch’s inaugural State of the Taxpayer Dinner. The event featured several state lawmakers, including Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

“If you think about the foundation of this organization and what this state has been through, you have every reason to be extraordinarily proud of your taxpayer friendly House, taxpayer friendly Senate and taxpayer friendly Cabinet and governor,” said Putnam.

Putnam said the “taxpayer friendly nature” of state government helped pull the state out of the recession. Now, he said the unemployment rate is barely over 5 percent; the crime rate is at a 44 year low, and discussions of tax cuts will likely be a driving factor of the 2016 session.

“The defining debate of this legislative session is likely to be how much of your tax money is going to be returned to you,” he said. “That’s an extraordinary accomplishment in what is the third largest state.”

The state, Atwater said, was able to cut taxes and reduce the debt during difficult times. That, he said, was part of a concerted effort to make sure there wasn’t a burden on future generations.

“After what we have been through … we have reduced our taxes on a per capita basis through that period of time and into this period of recovery more than any other state in the union,” said Atwater. “We didn’t extract more from the market place; we gave the market place more of what it needed, its own resources to create the next job, to invest in the new piece of equipment and keep us moving forward.”

Atwater said the choices of former lawmakers had “created conditions for success.”

Putnam said the state should now focus on sustainable growth through things like focusing on talent development and boosting reserves.

Senate President Andy Gardiner also spoke during the event, telling attendees the Senate was “absolutely committed to having very positive tax cuts.”

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