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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Enterprise Florida fights back as Legislature slashes Scott's economic incentives budget

12

April

The Florida House and Senate have largely rebuffed Gov. Rick Scott’s call for a huge budget increase for economic incentives, which the governor awards to companies to help bring them to Florida. The organization that helps dole out the cash has sounded a red-alert to its members, telling them to lobby the Legislature for the increased budget. 

In his budget, Scott called for nearly $300 million in economic incentives, up from just over $100 million last year. The House and Senate have gone the opposite direction, proposing to decrease Scott’s funding despite a flush budget surplus. They’ve also passed several measures to increase scrutiny on the economic incentives, after high-profile bankruptcies and legal problems of companies that received tax dollars and then went bust. A report by watchdog group Integrity Florida has also increased legislative concern, questioning Enterprise Florida’s award of contracts and incentives to companies that have a seat on the board.

Fred Leonhardt, an Enterprise Florida board member, put his colleagues on Red alert last week about the potential gutting of the economic incentives budget.

“The elimination of incentive funding will eliminate Florida’s ability to compete in economic development projects,” he wrote in an email to the board.

He also wrote: "EFI will be calling on you in the future to reach out to legislators on this issue if negotiations do not improve the budget outlook. "

His email is below:

Dear Fellow EFI Board Member:

During the last two weeks the Florida Legislature has released their initial budget recommendations and the outlook is not positive for economic development or Enterprise Florida.  The chart below highlights the Governor’s recommendations as well as the House and Senate proposals and you can see there are several areas of concern.

The Senate has almost completely eliminated future funding for incentives, choosing to not allocate any additional dollars for these programs.  The dollars currently allocated are already contracted obligations (QTI, QDSC, etc.).  The elimination of incentive funding will eliminate Florida’s ability to compete in economic development projects. 

The House’s initial allocations did provide for incentive funding for the upcoming fiscal year, however cut Enterprise Florida’s operating budget by $2 million.  A cut of this magnitude will most certainly effect the daily operations of the organization which is already under staffed as compared to our competitor states. 

As budget negotiations continue we will be reaching out to you to help contact House and Senate leadership on our behalf.  We will provide the needed contact information and talking points.  If you have a positive relationship with anyone in the House and Senate we also ask that you reach out to them as soon as possible.  Without adequate funding for economic development programs in Florida we will not be able to compete in business recruitment and retention projects or help current Florida businesses expand into the international market.

Regards,
Frederick Leonhardt
Chair, Enterprise Florida Legislative Policy Committee

House and Senate Budget Recommendations Bleak for Economic Development

The past two weeks were busy while the Legislature was in Tallahassee.  Last week both chambers took Monday, Tuesday and Friday off in observance of Passover and Good Friday.  The previous week the Senate released their initial budget recommendations and on March 27 the House published their first round of recommendations.  Each side has serious gaps in economic development funding which would decrease Florida's competitiveness in business recruitment and retention.  EFI is working closely with the Governor's office as well as the House and Senate to bring the budget numbers more in line with the funds needed to compete.  EFI will be calling on you in the future to reach out to legislators on this issue if negotiations do not improve the budget outlook.  Below is a chart with the Governor's recommended funding and the House and Senate's first recommendations. 

 

 Budget Item

Governor's Recommendation

Senate Initial Recommendation

House Initial Recommendation

Flexible Incentive Funding 
(QTI, QACF, IIF, etc.)

$105,000,000

$20,020,000

$73,000,000

Qualified Expenditure Category

$173,000,000

$0

$0

EFI Operating Budget

$16,000,000

$16,000,000

$14,000,000 (a decrease of $2m from previous fiscal year)

Business Branding/Marketing

$3,000,000

$1,500,000

$0

International Offices

$600,000

$250,000

$0

Export Diversification

$350,000

$0

$0

Fl. Sports Spending Authority Increase

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

$0

Quick Response Training

$12,000,000

$6,000,000

$12,000,000

Space Florida Finance Funding

$10,000,000

$1,000,000

$10,000,000

Space Florida Operating Budget

$10,000,000

$10,000,000 (plus an additional $1.5m for marketing)

$10,000,000 (plus an additional $1.5m for marketing)

VISITFlorida

$75,000,000

$75,000,000

$65,500,000

 

[Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 10:14am]

    

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