Has the Senate Folded to Pressure from Enterprise Florida Board Members?
–Increased incentive funding goes against the interest of voters and taxpayers–
Tallahassee, Florida—Last night the Florida Senate Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Conference Committee did an about-face on incentive funding, tripling their original funding offer from $20 million to more than $70 million. This money will be dispersed through Enterprise Florida (EFI) to use as handouts to corporations that say they will create or keep jobs in Florida.
This week AFP-FL released a poll showing voters oppose taxpayer-funded incentives to lure businesses to Florida. Only 28 percent prefer the use of handouts to recruit businesses, while 63 percent believe a free-market approach of creating an equal playing field for all businesses is the best way to create jobs. Two-thirds of voters, 66 percent, say they don’t think government should be picking which types of businesses Florida should try to attract.
“The results of this poll are clear, voters want accountability for the way their tax dollars are spent and they want a free market without government interference. Voters oppose the use of tax dollars as corporate handouts and don’t want government picking winners and losers in business,’ commented AFP’s Florida State Director Slade O’Brien.
O’Brien continued, “Hopefully the Senate will rethink their decision to increase funding for these handouts, a program that amounts to little more than corporate welfare. Giving out tax payer funded incentives to companies that are coming to Florida or expanding their existing business is not a proven way to encourage jobs. Our elected officials would be better served to promote policies that will benefit employers and employees in the long run rather than continuing to fund short-term incentive programs that favor a politically connected few.”
In February, the Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP-FL) co-released the report Enterprise Florida: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare that analyzed Enterprise Florida’s operations and results. It also examined the pay-to-play appearance of Enterprise Florida’s Board of Directors, potential conflicts of interest between the Board and EFI staff, deals and contracts with Board member companies and questioned EFI’s reported new job numbers.
Following the release of the report, dozens of articles have been written questioning the efficacy of the taxpayer-funded incentives Enterprise Florida hands out and suggesting funding for these incentive programs needs to be cut off until the legislature and taxpayers have a clearer picture of what they are getting, or not getting for the hundreds of millions of dollars that EFI has received over almost twenty years.