All eggs in one basket? Florida Gov. Scott consolidating economic power, funding
Wake up and good morning. Florida's economic development strategy appears to be one of rapid consolidation of power and money into the hands of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and a few of his hand-picked followers in state government. That's great if Scott's vision is your vision. That's less comforting if Florida's putting all its economic development eggs into one less-than-transparent basket controlled by a newbie politician who's been in office 100 days this week.
So far in Tallahassee, the House last week endorsed a new measure that creates a single jobs agency, the Department of Economic Opportunity. How? By rolling the Agency for Workforce Innovation, Enterprise Florida, the Florida Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, Visit Florida and parts of the Department of Community Affairs into one large entity reporting directly to Gov. Scott.
That action followed the Florida House's earlier passage of a measure that gives Scott a $427 million "superfund" to pay for incentive packages to lure businesses to the state.
The Senate also is considering a bill to reorganize economic development efforts in Florida, but there is no provision to create a similar fund. Read more in this Sarasota Herald Tribune story.
The biggest backlash so far comes from the tourism industry which does not like the fact that its public-private Visit Florida marketing arm -- and its budget for tourism -- could be tossed into one bigger pot to be used at Scott's discretion. See the stories here and this Orlando Sentinel column here that starts: "The size of this power grab looks like one for the record books."
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times