Governor Scott proposes tax-free textbooks

Governor Rick Scott asked Legislators last Thursday to exempt all college textbooks from state and local sales tax and to expand the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program so that it covers summer classes.

According to a news release, the average Florida college student would be able to save $60 per year and the tax break is expected to cost more than $41 million.

“To make Florida the top destination in the world for jobs and opportunities, we must continue to make the dream of earning a college education attainable for every student,” Scott said.

Tracoyia Roach, a junior biology student from Miami, spends hundreds on textbooks every semester. Roach isn’t enthusiastic about the proposal, but she’s not against it.

“I think taking the tax off of textbooks is a good idea,” Roach said. “It’s not much but it can help for a student that could probably use that extra money to eat lunch that week … but at the same time, you have to ask the question, do taxpayers have to pay more in taxes because of this decision?”

Scott’s proposal is aimed at bringing college students closer to succeeding in the classroom.

“Eliminating the sales tax on college textbooks will directly help every Florida student with the cost of college by offsetting the rising price of textbooks. Also, by expanding Bright Futures Scholarships to include summer courses, we are offering more flexibility for students to achieve their goals. We are committed to ensuring every student has more opportunities to succeed in the classroom and bring them closer to their dream of a great job,” said Scott.

Victoria Elliot, an international affairs student at FSU, said the proposal has the potential to greatly benefit students.

“I think it may make a difference,” Elliot said. “Textbooks are expensive anyway. If the prices could go down that would be awesome. If anything it’s a start, which is good.”

University of Central Florida graduate student, Aspen Larkins is pleased with the proposal.

“As a current college student, having taxes taken off text books can help me save funds. I also find it as a great idea to have bright futures cover the summer. That’s less loans that students will have to take out to cover their tuition and other college expenses.”

Nathaniel Johnson, Ph.D. economics assistant professor at FAMU, says this announcement has a political goal that pushes for young adults and college students to vote and support the Republican Party.

“The Objective is to find something to appeal to younger people,” Johnson said. “The reality is that using a tax cut on textbooks has a very minimal effect on changing that, because student’s aren’t buying textbooks the way they used to buy them.”

However, Johnson doesn’t see the proposal making much of a difference.

“What we do find in economics though, is that tax cuts do not have a bigger expansionary effect on the economy as spending,” Johnson said. “If I spent a dollar on you to get you to produce a product or sell a product, it has a much greater effect than if I cut the taxes by some small percentage to induce you to do it … we find that it’s far more costly to the government and it doesn’t really persuade the customer to react by tax cutting.”