Funding affordable housing, paying our teachers, fixing the healthcare system, and more are all serious problems facing Florida today. And solving these problems means dedicating money and resources towards doing so. This becomes difficult when Florida’s corporations refuse to pay their fair share, and worse yet when lawmakers in Tallahassee allow them to do so. During Carlos’ time in office, the legislature has continually put the interests of corporations before that of the people. They offer tax cuts and loopholes that do nothing but increase corporate profits while leaving the issues facing actual Floridians unaddressed and solutions unfunded. That’s why Carlos has helped lead the charge to end corporate welfare and has put people first at every turn.
Fighting Corporate Handouts during COVID-19
COVID-19 has wrecked the Florida economy and destroyed lives; small businesses across the state have struggled to survive and thousands of Floridians have lost their jobs. But in the midst of this emergency, the Florida government didn't work to protect these vulnerable groups. Instead, they offered $543 million in corporate tax refunds to to the top 1% of Florida businesses who didn't need it. Carlos has publicly called on Governor Ron DeSantis to redirect support for giant corporations instead towards small businesses and everyday people.
“Governor Ron DeSantis sent out $543 million in refunds to the top 1% of corporations. We should be using that to help small businesses NOT giant corporations!" - Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, April 2020
Carlos even proposed an amendment that would have diverted the entire $543 million towards replenishing the Sadowksi Affordable Housing Fund instead -- a major goal of his work in promoting affordable housing throughout Florida.
Another significant fight surrounding the tax breaks was a $6 million tax break for giant rental car companies like Avis, Enterprise, and Hertz. This despite the fact many of these companies have seen record profits in the past year. As Carlos pointed out, that money could instead be used to hire 120 new teachers for Florida's public schools. This is why he fought hard to have this section of the bill repealed.
"I’m reading a headline that says Avis Car Rental stock SKYROCKETS! Best December!' It doesn’t seem like these rental car companies are struggling. Can you please explain to me why we're giving them a $2 MILLION tax break?" - Carlos Guillermo Smith, March 2020
Fighting Corporate Handouts in Orange County
Carlos isn’t afraid to stand up to his fellow party members when it comes to corporate giveaways, either. Back in his home district, Carlos is a vocal critic of tax breaks proposed by Orange County and its Democratic Mayor Jerry Demmings. Orange County leadership has often considered millions in tax breaks for giant corporations such as Universal Orlando, and Carlos has consistently pressured them into rejecting such proposals. Instead, he advocates for devoting the funds towards solving issues such as the county’s dire lack of affordable housing.
Orange County leadership has also been pressured by corporations into expanding their Convention Center. The Convention Center is already one of the largest structures on earth, and Carlos argued that expanding it should take a back seat to more pressing matters such as the COVID pandemic. This pressure has seemed to work as, for the time being, the expansion has been halted.