Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King on Friday decried an item in the GOP tax bill that would hit Puerto Rico with a new excise tax on goods shipped from the island to the states.
The proposed 20 percent tax on shipped goods is meant to discourage and punish American companies that export their jobs overseas to foreign-incorporated subsidiaries, then import the goods from those factories back to the United States. But it applies to companies that set up manufacturing subsidiaries in Puerto Rico as well.
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and other officials there have warned that the tax would hit Puerto Rico’s economy hard at a time that it’s already trying to recover from the double disasters of Hurricane Maria in September and the collapse that followed the 2016 declaration that the commonwealth’s government could no longer pay its debts.
“While there are many reasons to be deeply suspicious of this legislation that seems poised to benefit our country’s wealthiest people and corporations, there is a provision in this new law that could be catastrophic for Puerto Rico,” King said.
King, who faces former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee in seeking the 2018 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor, called attention to the provision Friday in the state that has received tens of thousands of Puerto Rican migrants just this fall.
King contended the tax would counter previous federal tax provisions that had turned Puerto Rico into a medical manufacturing hub. Drug and medical device makers have invested billions into the island, creating thousands of jobs and accounting for about half of the island’s economic output, he wrote in a blog post, and they would now be hampered with the excise tax if it stays in the bill.
“As a candidate hoping to serve as Florida’s next governor, I strongly urge our leaders in Washington to vote against the tax bill, and especially the harsh Puerto Rican excise tax,” King wrote. “There is no reason to place this burden on the people of Puerto Rico in their hour of need.”