Scott's economic development advisors want more marketing money, lower taxes
The conclusions of the Economic Development transition team were embedded in a 109-page report, comprised of Power Point slides, and one simple mission statement for Florida under Gov.-elect Rick Scott: “Creating the most prosperous state in the nation.”
To get there, the report recommends consolidating Florida's diverse, economic development organizations because the current structure is decentralized, "without strong leadership...not properly focused on job creation...and leads to unnecessary intra-state competition.”
Taxes on businesses should get the ax, the advisors said. Unemployment compensation taxes should be cut, impact fees paid by developers should be eliminated for two years, capital investment tax credits should be expanded -- to companies that spend only $2 million and create 20 jobs -- and payroll taxes should be lowered for companies who pay 200 percent of state wages.
The transition team had strong opinions about how Scott should promote Florida. Within the first 90 days, he should announce plans to attend the Paris Air Show, Farnborough and bio tech conferences and about what Florida spends on marketing the state to $62.5 million.
The transition team's understanding of Florida government apparently wasn't as good. It recommended that, also within the first 90 days, Scott “announce creation of Cabinet Level Officer who will lead and coordinate all state wide ED efforts.” There is no mention of how you could announce this without first getting voter approval to amend the Constitution, the controlling document for establishing Cabinet-level positions. (The governor, of course, could budget for and announce an agency-level position, but the funding would have to be approved by the legislature.)
Meanwhile, the bill to restructure the economic development agencies should be “the first bill passed and signed by the governor.”
Keeping in tune with the other transition reports, there is a focus on cost savings. At the Department of the State, the report suggests that libraries maybe should be a state function and recommends Scott “evaluate role of library in modern Florida.”
On the employment front, the report found that Florida has the third worst performance in the U.S. at re-employing the unemployed quickly and concluded that the state should find ways to encourage those on unemployment to spend more time searching for work. The unemployed should be required to apply first to look for a job before they are allowed to receive benefits. After 12 weeks, those who have not found jobs should be given community work. The group also suggests subsidizing an employment program to stimulate job creation.
The report also strongly urges deep dredging at Miami’s port, saying that without it "Florida will lose over 30,000 jobs.” Scott recently visited the port as part of his statewide jobs tour, but he refused to commit to supporting the dredging project.