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Fiscal Watchdogs Clash Over Rick Scott's Call to Increase Enterprise Florida Funding

February 18, 2016 - 12:00pm
George LeMieux, Chris Hudson and Dominic Calabro
George LeMieux, Chris Hudson and Dominic Calabro

Advocates of free market economics and limited government split on Thursday over Gov. Rick Scott’s call for increasing the funding for Enterprise Florida to lure businesses to the Sunshine State. 

Florida TaxWatch released a report on Thursday which urged the Legislature to back Scott’s proposal to annually increase Enterprise Florida’s budget by $250 million 

“The analysis finds that Florida’s competitive tax climate and welcoming weather entice businesses to our state, but Florida must provide targeted incentive packages that will help create high-paying jobs in the Sunshine State as we compete with other states for domestic and global business,” Florida TaxWatch noted as it released the report. 

“Our state’s economy is vibrant and growing,” said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. “But if Florida wants to attract high-wage jobs that would not otherwise come here, our leaders must commit to a targeted, focused effort to compete with other states.

“Strong leadership and support from our elected officials that consistently and competitively fund our economic development incentive programs will ensure that Florida remains the top state to work and to live,” Calabro added. 

“The competitive nature of today’s economy requires the strategic use of economic development incentives in order to maintain the tremendous economic growth in the Sunshine State,” said former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., the chairman of the Florida TaxWatch Center for Competitive Florida. “Investing in our economic development incentive programs should be a top priority for lawmakers during the remainder of the 2016 Legislative Session.”

Florida TaxWatch won the support of the  Department of Economic Opportunity, Enterprise Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), the Florida Ports Council and the Manufacturers Association of Florida. 

“With states constantly competing to bring businesses to their cities, it is important that Florida can offer lucrative incentive options to entice companies to do business in our state,” said former U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney,  R-Fla., the president and CEO of the Associated Industries of Florida. "Florida must ensure that our economic development incentive programs are adequately funded and properly organized in order to competitively attract jobs. Additionally, we believe it is essential these programs demonstrate positive economic advantages to the citizens of Florida."

But fiscal conservative group Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter (AFP-FL) stressed its continued opposition to Scott’s proposal. 

“Legislators should double down on helping Florida families and entrepreneurs pursue the American dream,” said Chris Hudson, AFP’s director in Florida. “The best way they can do that is by continuing to focus on cutting onerous red tape and strategically cutting taxes.Those impacts far outweigh even the supposed short term gains that failed targeted tax credits and incentive spending programs deliver. Florida’s economy has bounced back because our economic infrastructure outpaces almost all other states. That’s why people and businesses want to come to Florida!”

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN


"Florida Taxwatch"? Who are they? And why haven't they been "run out of town by now? For "Long-term failure" !

Why would we short change Education, State personnel, law enforcement, fire fighters, roads and infrastructure, etc., etc., etc. to pay their corporate welfare. If we truly are the most business friendly state with minimal taxes on anything business related, then why do we have to pay companies to come with no guarantee of ever producing all those so called jobs. If you look at the record, these programs have been a dismal failure, delivering on less than 50% of the promised jobs, yet they do not have to pay back a penny. That's an "F" and failing grade in my book. It should be 95-100% in my book when we're talking about our money... If your going to have more gov't, I'm going to choose for the people every time over corporate no!

What about properly funding Amendment 1, a Constitutional Amendment that was approved by 75% of the Florida voters? Why doesn't the state do more for the natural environment we and future generations will live in. The debate over providing incentives to draw businesses to Florida is a slap in the face to the 75% of voters who supported Amendment 1. If Florida's environment is in good condition and not stressed by poorly planned developments, businesses will come to Florida without all of us taxpayers fronting their moving and other costs associated with relocation.

It appears that you do not understand the business environment.

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