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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Incoming House Speaker predicts Rick Scott's job incentives dead for the foreseeable future



Gov. Rick Scott's cherished job incentive program is not only dead this year, but will likely be so for years to come, incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran told a group in Texas today.

Corcoran acknowledged he was a big reason Scott's proposal for $250 million last year for Enterprise Florida never passed the Legislature and predicted Scott's $85 million request for next year will face a tough fight. Corcoran said the Florida House has a series of conservative leaders in place over the next six years that will not look favorably on future job incentive programs that hand out tax dollars to certain private businesses in exchange for them creating jobs.

"I don't think that fund will exist for at least the next four to six years given the Republican leadership in the House," Corcoran told a audience at The Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin.

Corcoran called the incentive programs "corporate welfare" that reward some businesses over others. He called the concept of job incentives "de facto socialism" because it takes money from the masses and gives it to a select group. 

"That is not the proper role of government," Corcoran said.

He recounted a story of Scott inviting him and Rep. Jose Oliva, R-Miami, to a meeting and saying to them he knew they were the ones really responsible for sinking his $250 million job incentives request. Corcoran said he searched for a diplomatic response, but Oliva blurted out: "Oh, yeah, it's us."

The forum included pro-economic incentive advocates from Texas, who challenged Corcoran on the prospect that Florida could lose out to other states if it stops giving out incentives. Corcoran said he didn't believe it was true. He said the state stopped handing out incentive money for professional football teams, yet no teams have left the state and found private ways to fund their stadiums. He said the film industry didn't get new incentives, yet films are still being made in Florida. He said the new Republican leadership in the Florida House is adamently against the idea of taking taxes from the masses and handing it to selected winners in the corporate world.

He said instead of spending billions on corporate welfare, Florida would be better served in putting the money into improving the education system and state infrastructure, which would better position the state to lure other businesses to Florida.

Corcoran's comments come just weeks after Scott promised to keep fighting the Legislature to get money in the incentive program, which he credits for bringing hundreds of thousands of jobs to the state.

"I ran on a mission to turn Florida's economy around, and while we have added over 1 million jobs in just 5½ years, I will keep fighting for jobs until my very last day as governor," Scott said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 5:09pm]


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