In the News
Panama City News Herald
Mar 02 2018
The congressman also lauded as “monumental” the Air Force’s decision to name Tyndall Air Force base as the preferred location for a wing of the MQ-9 Reaper program.
PANAMA CITY — Congressman Neal Dunn said legislation recently passed in Washington is streamlining government, bolstering the economy and having a profound positive impact on Bay County.
Dunn outlined the details in his keynote address at the Bay County Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday event at Florida State University Panama City.
Dunn said the recent tax cuts are certainly the biggest news out of Washington.
“We cut the tax rates for all the taxpayers basically across the board,” he said. “Paychecks are going up for over 90 percent of the people in America, and they are seeing that already.”
He said the tax reform legislation doubles the standard deduction and child tax credit, and the corporate tax rate goes from 35 percent to 21 percent.
“This makes the U.S tax code, the U.S. tax burden, effective rate, competitive with the rest of the world,” Dunn said. “We were at roughly twice the effective tax rate of the industrialized world, which is a huge handicap, and it’s why we saw so many of our businesses leaving America.”
Dunn said wages and bonuses are increasing, businesses are expanding and new businesses are opening.
He also said “de novo” banks, which are newly chartered banks, are opening. “We went six years in America with no de novo banks,” Dunn said. “Now we are seeing those open up again. This is a measure of the economy. If we don’t have small community banks opening up, there is a problem with the economy.”
He said Congress also is streamlining government, repealing more regulations than any Congress in history.
“This is an economy that is growing. It is good news for everyone,” he said.
Congress is also rebuilding the military, Dunn said, granting a request by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis for more than $700 billion in 2017 and 2018.
The congressman also lauded as “monumental” the Air Force’s decision to name Tyndall Air Force base as the preferred location for a wing of the MQ-9 Reaper program. An environmental assessment has to be completed before the unmanned aerial drone wing a done deal, but if it does come to fruition, it could bring in an estimated 1,400 to 1,600 airmen and their dependents to Bay County.
Dunn said Enterprise Florida believes the Reaper wing “is the single biggest economic development (project) that has happened in the state since Disney.”
He said other recent federal decisions have benefited Bay County on many fronts, such as the decision to increase the red snapper fishing season from three to 39 days.
And it looks positive that the federal courthouse will stay in Bay County. Dunn praised the Bay County Commission for providing the juvenile courthouse as an alternative site for the courthouse that serves six counties.
Another positive development he cited is the federal government’s decision to allocate $530 million to Eastern Shipbuilding to build Coast Guard cutters starting next year.
“This is big news for everybody around here,” Dunn said, pointing out that there will be about 1,000 welders associated with the project.
Also of interest locally is a bill that has been filed that could challenge the proposed “threatened” status of the Panama City crayfish. The Bay County Chamber, county commission and port board are among those that don’t want to see the designation come to fruition, saying it will add to building costs.
“We filed a bill to de-fund the rule that U.S. Fish and Wildlife has proposed regarding the crayfish,” Dunn said. “They have to go back and address the rule more appropriately.”
Dunn said another major victory occurred this week when the Natural Resources Committee, after listening to County Commissioner Philip “Griff” Griffitts, agreed with the county’s version of coastal flood maps, which will allow homeowners in communities such as Finesterre to get flood insurance.
“Your home value, which may have been close to zero without that, comes back, so that was a huge win,” he said.