Business groups react to Legislature's proposal to not fund Gov. Scott's priority
The business community is not taking the Legislature's refusal to fund one of Gov. Rick Scott's top priorities well. The Legislature is holding budget negotiations this weekend, but already both the House and the Senate have agreed to set aside no money for the job creation fund. Scott had sought $250 million. Without the money, the leader of Enterprise Florida said the state will miss out on attracting more businesses to Florida.
"As a result, there are 277 projects Enterprise Florida Inc. is actively competing for, that are effectively lost," Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson said in a mass email to dozens of EFI board members. "This means the legislature’s actions will result in losing the creation of approximately 50,000 jobs."
The Tampa Bay Partnership, which includes business leaders from eight area counties, issued an "Urgent Alert" to its membership on Saturday, urging business and community leaders to start calling legislative leaders to register their support for Scott's job fund.
"By failing to fund the Florida Enterprise Fund, we not only jeopardize all the projects in our pipeline today, we send a message that we’re not prepared to compete for the highly coveted jobs of the future,” said Rick Homans, President & CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership.
House Appropriations chairman Richard Corcoran, a Pasco County Republican, and other House leaders had opposed the $250 million incentive fund, calling it "corporate welfare."
On Saturday morning, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said following an early round of budget negotiations in Tallahassee that he still disagreed with the decision to zero out the incentive program.
"I'm still pretty disappointed," Latvala said.
Latvala, who has been a harsh critic of the program in the past, said he was surprised the Legislature ended up with zero in the fund. He said $250 million was a lot, but thought lawmakers could have provided a lesser amount.
"It didn't have to be $250 million, but there is a big difference between $250 million and zero," Latvala said.
The budget negotiations are far from over. The Florida Legislature still has two weeks remaining in its annual legislative session to complete the spending plan.