Thursday, December 14, 2017
Politics

Bob Buckhorn endorses Gov. Rick Scott's $250 million request for Enterprise Florida

TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott has combed Florida for mayors to help him persuade skeptical legislators to approve more Enterprise Florida incentives for business recruitment, and on Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn volunteered.

"We could not have done what we've been able to do over the last four years, in terms of attracting corporations, without Enterprise Florida and these incentive dollars," Buckhorn said, citing the recruitment of companies like Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ashley Furniture.

Buckhorn is the most prominent mayor yet to support Scott's request for a Florida Enterprise Fund of $250 million — about six times what the Legislature approved this year. A Democrat who leads the state's third-largest city, he has ignored party lines in consistently welcoming Scott's job recruitment efforts.

"Whether we like it or not, it is part of the process," Buckhorn said of the incentives. "Competing with states that are far more aggressive about their dollars, we've got to be in that game."

Scott proposed the fund in October, saying Florida's existing job recruitment efforts were underfunded, while states such as New York and Texas had budgeted $150 million and $90 million, respectively, for corporate relocation incentives.

Scott asked the Legislature for $85 million for incentive programs for this year, but the Legislature cut that in half during its session this spring.

In the Senate, where the state's corporate relocation efforts have come in for pointed questions, analysts say only about 10 percent of money appropriated for incentive programs has been paid to employers. Most is earmarked for deals for jobs that haven't been created yet.

To compete with Texas, which Scott said was Florida's No. 1 rival for new jobs, the governor proposes to phase out the state's existing Quick Action Closing Fund and replace it with a new Florida Enterprise Fund. For a relocation project to qualify for state aid, it would have to generate a return of 10 percent per year for 10 years, delivering to the state a 100 percent return on its investment.

Before Buckhorn, Scott had picked up the support of Fort Myers Mayor Randall P. Henderson Jr., Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa and, according to Politico Florida, Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez (who Politico reported was mistakenly identified as Miami's mayor in an initial release from the governor's office).

Along with Buckhorn, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said Monday he was glad Scott thinks it's important to have money for corporate incentives and is pushing for it.

"I'll leave it to the governor for politics, but I will say that for this state to be competitive with other states, we do need incentive money to attract companies," Vinik said outside the Centre Club, where he spoke to about 200 business people about his plans to develop 40 acres around Amalie Arena and his efforts to attract big companies to his project. "It's an important ingredient in the calculation when companies decide where to move."

Still, Buckhorn's the one thinking about running for governor in 2018. Does he expect pushback from other Democrats?

"I'm sure there will be some," he said. "But I'm a mayor and I have to do — and will do — what's good for my city."

That, he said, includes pursuing new companies with the help of state business incentives and supporting proposals that he thinks will make Tampa more competitive for jobs.

"We can't sell the state just on sunshine," Buckhorn said. "I'm never going to please the hard-core partisans on either side of the aisle. That's not what mayors worry about. We worry about growing our city."

Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times.

Comments
Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Senate race motivated Alabama’s white, black evangelical voters in different ways

Nationally, the word "evangelical" has become in recent years nearly synonymous with "conservative Republican" and Alabama is one of the most evangelical states in the country. But in Alabama, there is a difference: black Christians.While in many par...
Published: 12/13/17
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith named to fill Franken seat

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith on Wednesday to fill fellow Democrat Al Franken’s Senate seat until a special election in November, setting up his longtime and trusted adviser for a potentially bruising 2018...
Published: 12/13/17
Elections chief: Automatic recount unlikely in Alabama race

Elections chief: Automatic recount unlikely in Alabama race

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Still-uncounted ballots are unlikely to change the outcome of the U.S. Senate race in Alabama enough to spur an automatic recount, the state’s election chief said Wednesday as Democratic victor Doug Jones urged Republican Roy Moore...
Published: 12/13/17
Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trump’s turf

Democrats jubilant, and newly confident about 2018, as Alabama delivers win on Trump’s turf

The Democrats’ seismic victory Tuesday in the unlikely political battleground of Alabama brought jubilation — and a sudden a rush of confidence — to a party that has been struggling to gain its footing since Donald Trump won the presidency 13 months ...
Published: 12/13/17
Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and co...
Published: 12/12/17
Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

Trump signs $700 billion military budget into law

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed into law a sweeping defense policy bill that authorizes a $700 billion budget for the military, including additional spending on missile defense programs to counter North Korea’s growing nuclear w...
Published: 12/12/17
Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

Donald Trump Jr. demands inquiry of House Intelligence Committee leak

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has asked the House Intelligence Committee to open an investigation into leaked information related to his closed interview with the committee last week."To maintain the credibility of the in...
Published: 12/12/17
Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

Original Watergate lock that burglars picked open is going to auction

WASHINGTON -— It’s the lock that launched a two-year investigation and took down a president. And now more than four decades later — and for a starting bid of $50,000 — it can be a really wonky conversation piece.Nate D. Sanders Auctions will auction...
Published: 12/12/17
Democrats say Trump’s tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

Democrats say Trump’s tweets about Gillibrand sexist, unsavory

WASHINGTON — Plowing into the sexual harassment debate in a big way, President Donald Trump laced into Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, tweeting that the New York Democrat would come to his office "begging" for campaign contributions and "do anyth...
Published: 12/12/17
Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

Obama, Biden and Trump make late pushes in Alabama Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — National political leaders, a Hollywood actress and a retired basketball star made last-ditch efforts to woo voters in the Alabama Senate race Monday, as the candidates gave their final arguments in a pivotal special election that ...
Published: 12/12/17