A livid Latvala blasts Legislature's rejection of Scott's jobs fund
It seemed like a breakthrough moment at the time. It turned out Friday that it was anything but.
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, chairman of the Senate budget subcommittee for economic development, summoned reporters on Jan. 25 to tell them that he would support Gov. Rick Scott's request for an unprecedented $250 million incentive fund to attract jobs to Florida. It was a Senate priority, Latvala said, that was partly philosophical and partly an olive branch to a governor who clashed bitterly with senators over the past year.
But in an instant Friday, that $250 million vanished. Senators eager to resolve budget differences with the House quickly and peacefully this year capitulated to the House's demand to wipe out a program it considers a form of "corporate welfare."
Latvala was livid.
"It's heavy on my heart," he told the Times/Herald. "What the Legislature has done is deliver a punch in the gut to a governor who has poured every ounce of his soul into jobs since he's been governor. To zero out this category is insulting and demeaning ... it's unconscionable."
Latvala said he could understand if House members had a difference of opinion on the $250 million -- after all, he noted, the House supported more incentive money last year than the Senate did -- but the decision to completely wipe out the program shocked him.
"That's going to send a signal around the nation to business recruiters and people looking to relocate that will take us years to overcome," he said.