Gov. Rick Scott and his jobs guru, Enterprise Florida CEO Bill Johnson, came out swinging Tuesday against Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers-backed group that opposes Scott's call for a $250 million pool of money to lure private jobs to Florida.
AFP is running a TV ad that calls the fund "corporate welfare," and Johnson accused the group of hypocrisy and called on AFP to suspend operations in Florida. In a release, Johnson cited recent news reports that Koch Industries has benefited from $196 million worth of incentive money from various governments, and the governor's office quickly recycled Johnson's message.
"Koch Industries is willing to use taxpayer money to benefit their business, but opposing the Florida Enterprise Fund means they will not let small and growing businesses in Florida access incentive dollars," Johnson said.
The source Johnson cited for his criticism of AFP is Good Jobs First, a website that tracks government subsidies to private companies, and which itself has highlighted the growing trend under Scott of awarding taxpayer incentive money to private companies.
AFP issued this response: "AFP isn't Koch. We receive contributions from thousands of Americans across the country who have tasked us with ridding the political system of the crony spending sprees lawmakers have enjoyed for too long."
Scott's call for a $250 million incentive fund has support in the Senate, but it has not been adopted by the House, and AFP will continue to urge House Republicans to oppose it.
"If the Legislature has an extra $250 million to spend on cash handouts to private businesses, why isn't that money being given back to taxpayers?" AFP asks. "After all, Gov. Scott says that taxpayers know how to spend their money better than the government does."