Jay Fant is down on bill that would end Enterprise Florida - Florida Politics

Jay Fant is down on bill that would end Enterprise Florida

State Rep. Jay Fant says he will not vote for a bill, backed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, that seeks to abolish the Enterprise Florida economic development organization.

After Thursday’s floor session, he told FloridaPolitics.com he doesn’t “like going against leadership on a vote, and I stick with them on just about everything, but this just isn’t one of those things.”

The Jacksonville Republican had asked critical questions of bill sponsor Paul Renner, a former political rival, in the floor session.

Fant, first elected in 2014, said killing Enterprise Florida “will hinder our ability to bring businesses to Florida.” He instead favors heightened scrutiny of the agency, which is funded mainly with public dollars.

The entity is “the right thing at the right time,” he said.

The bill (HB 7005) gets rid of the organization and many business incentive programs favored by Gov. Rick Scott. Corcoran regards them as “corporate welfare.”

“I’m not passing judgment on particular projects,” Fant added. “I would just love to see us back off from where we are on the bill now.”

The bill could go to a final vote as early as Friday; as a Corcoran priority, it’s virtually ensured to pass.

But it faces an uphill slog in the Senate, where Republican leaders—including Appropriations Committee chair Jack Latvala—back Scott on keeping Enterprise Florida and incentives in general.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.
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