TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

A bill aimed at boosting Florida's manufacturing sector through a tax break has cleared its first test before a state House panel.

The bill seeks to end the 6 percent sales tax charged on equipment purchases by manufacturers. It reflects one of Gov. Rick Scott's top priorities of the legislative session.

The measure (HB 391) was approved by the House Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee on Wednesday.

State Rep. MaryLynn Magar says her bill is a needed incentive because Florida is "woefully behind" most of the country in producing manufacturing jobs.

She cited forecasts indicating broader use of the tax exemption would cost the state more than $100 million by the second year. But she said it would result in a net gain in revenue by enticing manufacturers to hire more workers and produce more goods.