The Florida House and Senate have largely rebuffed Gov. Rick Scott’s call for a huge budget increase for economic incentives, which the governor awards to companies to help bring them to Florida. The organization that helps dole out the cash has sounded a red-alert to its members, telling them to lobby the Legislature for the increased budget.
In his budget, Scott called for nearly $300 million in economic incentives, up from just over $100 million last year. The House and Senate have gone the opposite direction, proposing to decrease Scott’s funding despite a flush budget surplus. They’ve also passed several measures to increase scrutiny on the economic incentives, after high-profile bankruptcies and legal problems of companies that received tax dollars and then went bust. A report by watchdog group Integrity Florida has also increased legislative concern, questioning Enterprise Florida’s award of contracts and incentives to companies that have a seat on the board.
Fred Leonhardt, an Enterprise Florida board member, put his colleagues on alert last week about the potential gutting of the economic incentives budget.
“The elimination of incentive funding will eliminate Florida’s ability to compete in economic development projects,” he wrote in an email to the board.
He also wrote: "EFI will be calling on you in the future to reach out to legislators on this issue if negotiations do not improve the budget outlook. "
His email is below: