Rick Scott stumps for economic development, tourism dollars in Tallahassee - Florida Politics

Rick Scott stumps for economic development, tourism dollars in Tallahassee

Tourism in Tallahassee

Proponents of keeping Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA have been repeating the talking point that even Coca-Cola, king of market share, still advertises.

And so on Monday, Gov. Rick Scott kept driving home his counter-frame to House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s “corporate welfare” narrative that killing the state’s economic development organization and tourism marketing agency will kill jobs.

“Here in Tallahassee, we need to diversify the economy, we need to get more tourism, we need to get more manufacturing companies,” he said, at a business roundtable at the Danfoss Turbocor Compressors plant.

“It’s not going to happen if they shut down Enterprise Florida and if they decimate VISIT FLORIDA, so I’m going to be working every day, traveling the state fighting for jobs. This about making sure every family in this state doesn’t have the struggles mine did when I growing up.”

Scott is barnstorming against last week’s 87-28 House vote to kill Enterprise Florida and its 80-35 vote to rein in VISIT FLORIDA, both public-private partnerships that are overwhelmingly funded with taxpayers’ dollars.

But the legislation is likely to find far from a warm reception in the Senate, whose leadership generally backs business incentives and tourism subsidies. That fact didn’t daunt Scott’s enthusiasm to keep up the political battle.

When asked if he were still confident that the Senate was still on his side, Scott said, “everybody should be on our side because it’s about families’ jobs. So I’m optimistic, but look, I’m going to fight for jobs.”

At the event, he kept up the praising of those who voted against the legislation and the public shaming of those who sided with House leadership. That put him in the unusual position of giving attaboys to Tallahassee’s two Democratic lawmakers, Loranne Ausley and Ramon Alexander, and vilifying Republican Halsey Beshears of Monticello, who voted for the bills.

“I don’t how he could do this,” Scott said of Beshears, as he was flanked by Enterprise Florida interim CEO Mike Grissom, VISIT FLORIDA CEO Ken Lawson and Department of Economic Opportunity director Cissy Proctor. “How do you vote against basic job creation?”

Scott also was asked about Senate proposals to tighten oversight and increase transparency of the agencies.

“There’s always things you can do better, but what you don’t do is shut it down,” Scott said.

The disagreement began when Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, threatened to sue VISIT FLORIDA last year after it refused to reveal a secret deal with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism. The rapper eventually disclosed the deal himself, revealing he was set to be paid up to $1 million. This session’s bills followed suit.

Scott’s offensive continues Tuesday with a “Fighting for Florida Jobs Tourism Rally” at the Capitol.

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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