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Republicans campaigning against Rick Scott's job incentive program

RickScottMarchJobsGov. Rick Scott announced March job numbers on April 15 at Beneficial Blends, a coconut oil company, in Tampa. MONICA HERNDON/Tampa Bay Times


Gov. Rick Scott’s push for millions of dollars to recruit businesses to Florida is taking a beating on the campaign trail.

But it’s not just Democrats slamming the Republican governor’s signature policy issue. In debates and forums, Republicans are making it abundantly clear Scott will have trouble getting the $85 million he wants for Enterprise Florida to recruit more companies to move to Florida.

“If you ask me, it’s $85 million too much,” Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said during a debate at St. Petersburg College in Seminole.

Sprowls, who is facing Democrat Bernie Fensterwald in November, said Florida’s economic rebound is not due to Enterprise Florida and the incentive money as much as it is to other factors like Florida cutting taxes and regulations on businesses.

Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, similarly told the same audience that he doesn’t like the idea of giving out the incentives and would rather see an effort to cut more taxes to help businesses instead. He faces Democrat Lorena Grizzle in November.

Further south in Sarasota, State Rep. Greg Steube, a Republican, told more than 300 people at a Sarasota Tiger Bay debate that he won’t back Scott’s request either.Steube said instead of giving money to “out-of-state companies” he’d rather see something that helps established Florida businesses like Publix and Bealls that have created thousands of jobs in Florida.

Ironically, Steube’s Democratic opponent Frank Alcock appeared more willing to support the idea.

“I would not rule it out,” Alcock said.

Scott’s pitch for incentive money has already received a big thumbs down from incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.

“There will not be any corporate welfare in the House budget,” Corcoran said after Scott initially requested the $85 million for Enterprise Florida.