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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott calls for $85M for job incentive program

29

September

Six months after the Florida Legislature denied Gov. Rick Scott's request for $250 million in job incentive money to lure new businesses to the state, he's back asking for $85 million for next year even though the incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, is adamant against it and calls it "corporate welfare."

At a meeting in Orlando on Thursday, Scott told Enterprise Florida board members that he's not giving up on seeking incentive money just because of what happened last spring.

“I ran on a mission to turn Florida’s economy around, and while we have added over one million jobs in just five and a half years, I will keep fighting for jobs until my very last day as Governor," Scott said. 

Scott promised to also propose legislation that aims to restructure Enterprise Florida, which had come under criticism from some state lawmakers for perceived excessive spending under its previous leader Bill Johnson, who left the agency in June with $132,500 serverance pay. Earlier this summer, Scott ordered Enterprise Florida to cut staff and office space and has vowed to retool its direction to make sure it is functioning as intended.

"We know that EFI needs to be reformed to get back to its core mission of job creation," Scott said Thursday.

Corcoran issued a statement that gives little indication that he's ready to support Scott's plan.

"There will not be any corporate welfare in the House budget," Corcoran said.

He said the government engaging in picking winners and losers in business is a "bad deal for Florida taxpayers." 

Before announcing his call for $85 million for job incentives, Scott reached out to key members of the Florida Legislature including Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who is set to become the chairman of the Senate's budget writing committee. Latvala said he was supportive of Scott's $250 million request last year and believes in job incentive funding through Enterprise Florida. Latvala said he can't say if $85 million is the right amount, but said that's the number Scott should have asked for last year.

"If he had asked for $85 million last year, he would have got it, in my opinion," Latvala said.

While Scott is required to submit a proposed budget annually, the State Legislature is charged with writing the budget. The Legislature next meets in its annual session in March 2017. 

[Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2016 2:03pm]

    

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