Enterprise Florida/Visit Florida loses first vote

first_img Reply And do something to stop some of the run-away development and growth that is diminishing our natural resources, and the state’s natural beauty. Reply 6 COMMENTS Mama Mia William Patrick is a Florida reporter for Watchdog.org. His work has been featured on Fox News and the Drudge Report, among other national sites, and in Florida news outlets such as the Bradenton Herald, Florida Politics, Florida Trend, Saint Peters Blog, Sayfie Review, and Sunshine State News. William is a member of the Investigative Reporters & Editors network and the Florida Press Association. February 11, 2017 at 9:51 am The best way to attract jobs and tourists to Florida is to keep our beaches clean, our oceans, our rivers, intercoastal waterways, lagoons, and underground aquifer clean, and to take on crime, and not allow drilling and fracking that would threaten Florida’s beautiful natural resources. Gov. DeSantis says new moment-of-silence law in public schools protects religious freedom Florida gas prices jump 12 cents; most expensive since 2014 By William Patrick of Watchdog.orgFlorida Capitol committee rooms aren’t often standing room only on Wednesday afternoons, much less a full month before the annual state legislative session gets fully underway.But when scores of millions of public dollars are on the chopping block, interested parties come from far and wide.Such was the case in room 212 of the Knott Building in downtown Tallahassee this week.Economic development and tourism marketing beneficiaries from across the state packed the committee room to implore lawmakers to keep the taxpayer-funding flowing – often to enthusiastic applause.More than 100 speakers were scheduled for public comment. Many others were in attendance. A few expressed support for the “corporate welfare” crackdown, but most came to oppose the bureaucratic sounding PCB CCB 17-01, a bill that would eliminate funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.Enterprise Florida is the state’s chief business recruitment organization. It uses taxpayer-funded incentives to entice private companies and nonprofits to relocate to Florida or expand within the state. Visit Florida spends tens of millions of public tax dollars annually on marketing the Sunshine State as a tourist destination.Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, wants $184 million for the quasi-state agencies in fiscal 2018.Despite reports of low return on investment, underperformance in comparison to other states and high-profile missteps such as paying rapper PitBill $1 million for a “sexy beaches” commercial, one-by-one opponents of the House bill made their case.First came the agency heads.Ken Lawson, president, and CEO of Visit Florida said he came to fight.“In the past, we dropped the ball. We failed to be transparent. We were in the newspapers,” Lawson said, vowing change.“Right behind me are my partners who stand with me,” he added. “Don’t pass this bill, because you’ll kill Florida.”Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, and Chris Hart, president, and CEO of Enterprise Florida, followed with appeals for incentive funding centering on jobs and interstate competitiveness.Then, Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, stepped forward and warned committee members against widespread economic devastation.“I can guarantee you the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars,” Dow said.“I moved here because it’s a no income tax state,” he said. “If you pass this bill, you are going to go to an income tax or increase sales taxes or cut services. That’s not acceptable.”Other petitioners recounted positive experiences.“Following Hurricane Matthew, within days the CEO of Visit Florida and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association made it a priority to visit us,” said Amy Lukasik, director of tourism marketing for Flagler County.“They viewed our damage and had conversations on how they could help immediately overcome national attention stating our destination was closed for business,” she said.Keith Overton, president of TradeWinds Island Resorts, said that eliminating Visit Florida would eliminate the voice of independent hoteliers.“What happens when tourists get shot like the Germans?” he asked, referencing an incident from two and a half decades ago. “What happens when we have Zika Virus? What happens when we have an oil spill? Who’s there to defend us? Are we going to leave that to the national media,” asked Overton.Representatives from the Central Florida Development Council of Polk County, the Economic Development Authority for Citrus County, Pinellas County Economic Development, the North Florida Economic Development Partnership, and many other development groups made funding appeals.About an hour and a half into the two-hour meeting, chairman Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, said he had about 100 public comment cards that he still hadn’t called to speak.It didn’t matter.The panel approved the bill to eliminate funding for the two agencies on a vote of 10-5.The vote was along party lines with two exceptions. Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, opposed the bill, saying he was open to reform but was concerned that eliminating the public-private partnerships would hurt job creation. Rep. Roy Hardemon, D-Miami, voted in favor of the measure after expressing outrage that incentive and tourism funding overlooked his low-income district, which includes Liberty City. Hardemon said his community was “deemed unmarketable.” Please enter your comment! February 11, 2017 at 4:43 pm Reply The argument that axing this program will necessitate a state income tax is ridiculous. Good try, I don’t believe that one’s argument however. Mama Mia February 11, 2017 at 9:49 am Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter Mama Mia TAGSEnterprise FloridaFocus on FloridaVisit Florida Previous articleNow there’s even an app for the Federal Bureau of InvestigationNext articleGabby Giffords and Mark Kelly coming to Central Florida Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Reply center_img Focus on Florida:Governor Scott: “Politicians turned their back on jobs today” Personally I wish that Governor Rick Scott would get out of politics when his term as governor is over. He should just go back to being a hospital owner, oh yeah, I remember now, not so easy anymore…..!!!! UF/IFAS in Apopka will temporarily house District staff; saves almost $400,000 February 11, 2017 at 10:01 am . Reply Mama Mia February 11, 2017 at 10:06 am February 11, 2017 at 9:46 am So Gov. Scott says that killing Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida is politicians turning their back on jobs today. Well there are residents all over Florida who feel like the governor has turned his back on Florida’s citizens by not expanding Medicaid to the poor, who needed it the most, especially very ill children. Money that was funded by the feds, but he said NO. The companies that he seems so interested in is gun manufacturing and bio-medical research using live animals. A lot of the other companies he attracts in from other states bring their own people with them. While I like Pitbull’s music, that is a ridiculous amount of money to spend for that. Weren’t too easy to wrangle out of them how much they spent either. Mama Mia Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Despite the passionate pleas of interested parties, lawmakers continued to question whether publicly funding a small number of private businesses was a proper function of government and if the funding could be better spent elsewhere.“The problem with economic incentives are multi-fold,” said Rep. Paul Renner, R-Jacksonville, the bill’s presenter.“It takes from the many and gives to the few,” he said. “When we spread hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development for a few companies, we steal money from core critical priorities.”If successful, the bill would divert funding for all eliminated incentive programs to the state’s general revenue fund.Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, the committee’s vice chair, supported the measure while stressing the need to let the legislative process unfold.“Ninety-five percent of the time, a bill that gets introduced in committee is not what it looks like in the end,” Trumbull said.Rep. Mike La Rosa, R-Lake Wales, said his supporting vote was “to continue to have the conversation.”Beshears was more direct. Before calling a vote, he spoke of “spending that has run rampant,” and of “holding those with the purse strings accountable.”“In order to get where we need to go sometimes, we need to reset the budget to zero. That’s what we’re proposing,” Beshears said.The bill has several more committee stops before a full House vote. It would then meet a skeptical Senate, and wouldn’t become law without Scott’s signature, a highly unlikely prospect.After the bill passed, Scott tweeted: “Politicians in @MyFLHouse turned their back on jobs today by supporting job-killing legislation. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply Ah, come on, let me tell you what I really think…..LOL Mama Mia Please enter your name here You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here Reply last_img

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