Sunday, February 18, 2018
Politics

Clock ticks down as Rick Scott makes case on jobs, tourism

TALLAHASSEE — Seven hundred and sixty-three days.

That's how many more days Rick Scott will be the governor of Florida.

Scott, who keeps a "countdown clock" in his Capitol office, mentioned the 763 days (as of Monday) in a speech at Associated Industries of Florida's annual conference.

Things in Florida just couldn't be better, Scott said.

As evidence, he cited the popularity of the state as a tourist destination, the 350,000 new residents who arrive each year, all the new jobs and the decline in unemployment — and on top of all that, Donald Trump will soon be in the White House, helping Florida succeed.

"This state's on a roll," Scott told the friendly, pro-business crowd. "There's no place like Florida."

To keep the momentum going, Scott said, the Legislature must support two of his signature programs: Enterprise Florida, which uses cash, tax credits and other incentives to attract jobs, and Visit Florida, which promotes Florida to the world as a tourist destination.

"The system works," Scott told reporters after his speech. "We hold people accountable."

He said proof of that is the case reported by the Fort Myers News-Press about Altair Training Solutions, a company that promised 150 new, high-paying jobs in Hendry and Collier counties but failed to deliver on most of them. Because the company fell short, it did not receive the incentives promised by the state.

"The money didn't go out because they didn't hit their numbers," Scott said.

Scott is expected to ask fellow Republicans in the Legislature to commit tens of millions of dollars to both programs next session.

He'll likely have support in the Senate, but it will be a very different story in the House.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, made it clear that he questions both programs.

"They're not consistent with our principles," Corcoran told reporters Monday, citing news reports about controversy with the Sanford Burnham research center in Orlando. "The facts bear out that they really don't succeed."

Corcoran used that word, "principles," several times in his talk to AIF on Monday. He and his colleagues say he absolutely means what he says — and that could be very bad news for the governor.

Corcoran calls job incentives "corporate welfare," and in a session with reporters, he said this about using tax dollars to promote tourism:

"They don't work, and when it comes to Visit Florida, you can't even remotely make the case."

He noted that Visit Florida did not exist before 1996, yet Florida has been a top tourist destination for decades.

"It's a funny thing. No tourists came before 1996," Corcoran said. "Then, in 1996, we formed this agency and we started giving them money and then we started getting tourists. It's fascinating how that works."

The upbeat governor said all the right things about how he and the Legislature will work together for the betterment of Florida.

But on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, Scott needs to change Corcoran's mind, and he has only 763 days.

Contact Steve Bousquet at [email protected] Follow @stevebousquet.

Comments
Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

One of the quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign that has stuck with me came from an unidentified Donald Trump supporter who shared his appraisal of the "Access Hollywood" tape on an episode of Showtime’s "The Circus."Having heard Trump boast on...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Published: 02/18/18
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Published: 02/17/18
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Published: 02/17/18
Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

Hundreds rally against gun violence in downtown St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — A red heart-shaped balloon rose above crowd of several hundred people that had gathered at Williams Park on Saturday evening to mourn Wednesday’s school shooting in Broward County and to protest gun violence.Below the balloon, signs ...
Published: 02/17/18
Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

Divided Congress unable to act on guns, immigration despite public pressure

It’s been five years since the guns and immigration debate collided at the same time on Capitol Hill. This time, the results were even more unproductive.In early 2013, weeks after a gunman killed 20 students and six educators at an elementary school ...
Published: 02/17/18
Stormy Daniels does Tampa: 10 minutes of dancing, then $20 a photo

Stormy Daniels does Tampa: 10 minutes of dancing, then $20 a photo

TAMPA — Well, that was fast.Adult film actress Stormy Daniels made her first appearance at Thee Dollhouse on Friday evening, the first of several shows planned this weekend at the Tampa strip club.She took the stage about 7 p.m. dressed in a pink, fl...
Published: 02/16/18

3 things we just learned from the indictment of 13 Russians in the Mueller investigation

We have the first indictment in Robert Mueller’s investigation that actually has to do with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The special counsel on Friday indicted 13 Russians in connection with a large-scale troll farm effort aimed at influenc...
Published: 02/16/18
Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

Under fire, Kelly overhauls White House clearance procedure

NEW YORK — Under pressure over his handling of abuse allegations against a top aide, White House chief of staff John Kelly on Friday ordered sweeping changes in how the White House clears staff members to gain access to classified information, acknow...
Published: 02/16/18
Romney officially announces run for Utah Senate seat

Romney officially announces run for Utah Senate seat

Associated PressSALT LAKE CITY — Former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is running for a Utah Senate seat, officially launching his political comeback attempt Friday by praising his adopted home state as a model for an acrimonious national governmen...
Published: 02/16/18