The Florida House voted on Friday to kill the agency Gov. Rick Scott has relied on for the past six year to hand out tax credits to lure business to the Sunshine State to create jobs.
State Rep. Paul Renner, a Republican from Flagler County, said tax credits to private businesses are “fundamentally unfair” because the government gets to pick some companies and industries over others to receive the credits.
“These incentives are also wrong because they do pick winners and losers,” Renner said.
He said a better use of incentive money would be to put it into education, public infrastructure or broad based tax cuts.
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The House voted 87-28 for Renner’s bill.
Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism. But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida. I will continue to fight for Florida jobs and never stop standing up for the families and businesses whose livelihood depend on a strong and growing economy.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott
The vote comes even after Scott traveled the state in February going to Republican districts and publicly calling out members for supporting the bill the would kill Enterprise Florida. And on Tuesday, Scott used his State of the State Address to the Legislature to fight back against the idea that the agency is picking winners and losers.
Scott has asked the Legislature for $23.5 million to fund Enterprise Florida’s base operations next year and another $85 million of economic incentives to convince companies to move to Florida.
The vote came moments before the House voted 80-35 for a separate bill that would enact strict reforms on Visit Florida, the state’s primary tourism marketing agency. The House originally sought to kill that agency as well after criticism mounted over a $1 million secret contract with pop music star Pitbull. Instead, Renner said the bill keeps Visit Florida alive, but with new guardrails to assure they are using taxpayer dollars wisely.
Scott responded quickly to both votes.
“Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism,” Scott said in a statement. “But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida. I will continue to fight for Florida jobs and never stop standing up for the families and businesses whose livelihood depend on a strong and growing economy.”