Gov. Rick Scott kicked off the 2017 legislative session Tuesday by recounting what has been a difficult and tragic year for Florida.
He recalled the nation’s deadliest mass shooting, when a gunman killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, though Scott did not mention that Pulse was an LGBTQ club or that it was Latin night and the victims were members of those communities. A second shooter killed five people at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. The state was the epicenter of a Zika virus outbreak. And for the first time in a decade, hurricanes hit Florida — two of them.
Then, Scott turned toward what he wants to accomplish this year.
In his State of the State address before a joint session of the Legislature, Scott outlined plans for tax cuts on businesses and military veterans, increased state spending on counterterrorism and defended a pet agency that has already been a source of conflict between him and the Republican-controlled House.
The session begins with a rift already clear between the governor and House Speaker Richard Corcoran over Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm whose tax incentive program is a top priority for the governor.
“It’s easy to throw out catch phrases like ‘picking winners and losers’ and ‘corporate welfare,’ ” Scott said. “By the way, I don’t like either of those things. I doubt anyone in this chamber does. But that’s not what we are doing. We are competing with 49 other states and hundreds of countries for jobs. When we bring new jobs to Florida, there are only winners.”
That was a direct attack on Corcoran, who has used both phrases in pointed critiques on Enterprise Florida.
Scott also called for:
* Continuing Visit Florida’s spending to draw tourists to the state.
* “Important investments in public safety, our transportation infrastructure, and investing in our state’s ability to combat the Zika virus.”
* “A new and open system where we provide choices and opportunities to every kid regardless of income or zip code.”
* Sales tax holidays for veterans, active duty military and on emergency response products.
* A tuition freeze at state universities for the fourth year.