William March, (@WMarchTBO)
TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Wednesday cutting vehicle registration fees up to $25 for the average motorist, a total of nearly $400 million annually, using the signing ceremony to challenge his likely Democratic opponent for re-election, former Gov. Charlie Crist.
Even while he stressed that the ceremony was not a political event, Scott reminded the crowd several times Crist was the governor who signed the state budget that included increasing the fees.
“In 2009, Charlie Crist raised this tax. We are going to right that wrong,” Scott said.
Scott has made reversing the vehicle fee increases one of his top priorities for this legislative session.
Democrats pointed out that the fee increase was passed by a GOP-dominated Legislature and pushed through by Republicans including former House Majority Leader Carlos Lopez-Cantera, whom Scott recently appointed lieutenant governor; state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, then state Senate president; and current House Speaker Will Weatherford.
Most Democrats, meantime, voted against the increases Scott faulted, said state Democratic Party spokesman Josh Karp.
“Rick Scott exposed his political desperation today by blaming others for a fee that will have been in place for more than 90 percent of his term and was passed by his own lieutenant governor,” said a statement by Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate.