Rick Scott Archives - Page 4 of 224 - Florida Politics

Joint auditing committee review hears mixed review of Enterprise Florida’s success rate over the past decade

After the Florida Legislature denied Governor Rick Scott’s $250 million in incentive funding for Enterprise Florida, Scott called for a financial review and audit for the agency, which House Speaker Richard Corcoran has declared he wants to kill during this year’s legislative session.

On Thursday, officials with the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) provided commentary on their recent audit of the private-public partnership before the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee on Thursday.

The appearance came a day after a House committee voted to kill Enterprise Florida, along with Visit Florida, the  the state’s tourism marketing group that received $76 million in funding this year.

Plant City House Republican Dan Raulerson wanted to know if there was a way to compare how well Florida is doing in using tax incentives to recruit businesses compared to other states?

“One of the analysis we did shows that Florida does not rank as favorably with respect to competitive states when you look at just the targeted industries,” said Laila Racevskis, a senior legislative analyst with OPPAGA. She added that her office also compared Florida on major economic indicators.

The analyses included six qualified target industries—manufacturing; wholesale trade; information; finance and insurance; professional, scientific, and technical services; and Management of Companies and Enterprises. From 2006 to 2015, Florida experienced employment growth in two of six industry sectors: Management of Companies and Enterprises (31%) and Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (12.5%). Of the comparison states, Florida ranked fourth in Manufacturing and third in Management of Companies and Enterprises. Texas received a first place ranking in five of six industry sectors.

According to EFI financial data, state funding has always far exceeded private sector funding. Private sector cash contributions during OPPAGA’s review period rarely exceeded $2 million, while state appropriations averaged about $20 million per year.

Naples Republican Senator Kathleen Passadomo asked how would Florida if they didn’t do any type of incentive program to recruit businesses?

“Our analysis did not try to make a direct correlation between the programs that we have and the outcomes presented in the analysis,” said Racevskis. “The analysis is intended to provide some context to compare with respect to job creation and wages in those particular industries.”

Referring to Corcoran, Passadomo said that it was apparent that “some people want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” but that the analysis shows that with needed improvements, Enterprise Florida could be more effective.

Francis Rooney says he’s not considering 2018 gubernatorial bid

Rep. Francis Rooney dismissed rumors he is considering gubernatorial bid, saying he is focused on “being the best congressman” he can be for Southwest Florida.

Rooney, a freshman congressman and the former ambassador to the Holy See, said he was not considering a run for governor in 2018.

“I am considering one thing — being the best congressman I can be for Southwest Florida,” he said. “I’m thankful to have the opportunity to represent Southwest Florida, and I’m not intending to do anything else other than do the best possible job I can.”

Rooney replaced Rep. Curt Clawson in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. The Naples Republican was backed by Gov. Rick Scott, who endorsed Rooney during the primary.

Scott has made no secret that he’d like to see another businessman in the Governor’s Mansion, and is believed to have approached Rooney about throwing his hat in the race. The two men are friends, and live just a few minutes away from each other in the same Naples community.

“The example of Gov. Scott and another businessperson in politics, Vern Buchanan, is part of what inspired me to run for this,” said Rooney. “I think we need business people in the government. I think if you look at the good they’ve been able to do with their experience and their track record with their decisions and things, it’s been very positive.”

But Rooney says he’s not interested in running for governor, saying he’s has “said it a lot, no way.”

“I’m sure there’s a lot of good business people that would make excellent governors in Florida, and congressmen and senators as well,” he said. “I just want to be the best congressman I can be.”

The race to replace Scott, who can’t run for re-election because of term limits, is expected to be a crowded one. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is widely expected to run, while House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Jack Latvala are believed to be considering their options.

 

Politics, food and fun: Florida State Fair kicks off

With a mix of old and new, the annual Florida State Fair kicks off Thursday.

In addition to obligatory references to artery-clogging fair fare by local reporters (Deep-fried butter! Spaghetti Ice Cream!), Opening Day of the Fair is the setting for the yearly Governors Day Luncheon, where every man and women in Hillsborough County who is even thinking of running for office in 2018 already have their ticket.

All Cabinet members are expected to appear, with Gov. Rick Scott scheduled to give the keynote speech, as will Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, already considered to be looking ahead to succeeding Scott in the governor’s mansion in 2018.

For the second consecutive year, there will be no formal Cabinet meeting, formerly part and parcel of activities of the Fair’s first day.

Last year, the meeting was canceled outright because of a lack of urgent business with state agencies.

The last time the Cabinet did meet at the Fair was in February 2015, with plenty of drama as it was the first time that Scott had to answer to Putnam, Pam Bondi and Jeff Atwater over the ousting of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

After a one-year absence, what has returned this year is a new super slide; in the past, both Putnam and Bondi have slid down in a post-luncheon tradition/photo-op.

Originally called “The Super Bowl Toboggan,” the mega slide was first unveiled in Times Square in the lead up to the 2014 Super Bowl. The Italian-made slide is 60 feet tall and 180 feet long and contains an LED package that gives off a light show at night.

On Rick Scott/Richard Corcoran feud; ‘incentives’ not needed to draw business to Florida

In 2012, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan went on a personal crusade to convince Bass Pro Shops to build a store in Brandon.

Hagan’s aim was to create jobs as the county struggled to recover from the Great Recession. He proposed an “incentive” package that was about $15 million of taxpayer money, arguing that it was the cost of doing business with a company like that.

Many people disagreed. They screamed. They howled. They complained that giving a Death Star-like Bass Pro public money to open shop forced small outdoor businesses to subsidize a multibillion-dollar corporation that could run them into bankruptcy.

Eventually, the incentive package was winnowed way down to some infrastructure improvements. Bass Pro came anyway. It seems to be thriving in its Brandon location.

I mention this in the context of the now-public feud between Gov. Rick Scott and Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the governor’s signature issue — jobs.

Scott has repeatedly shown he is a true believer in offering tax and other incentives to lure business to Florida. Corcoran guards the public bank account like a hungry pit bull, which is apropos because one of Corcoran’s targets was Visit Florida — the state’s tourism promotional arm that paid rapper Pitbull $1 million to tout our glory.

Scott built $85 million into his budget proposal for business incentives. Corcoran has dismissed that as corporate welfare and will have none of it.

I think Corcoran’s aim is more on target. Hillsborough’s experience with Bass Pro is proof.

Big businesses do create jobs, yes, but they also exist to make money. They will go to places where they can do that. Florida, now the third-largest state in the nation, is fertile ground for any company that wants to turn a profit.

But with the assumption that Scott will run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, the ability to “create” jobs seems to be his singular mission. There are about 1 million more jobs now in the state than when Scott took office in 2010. When you peel back the layers, though, the picture isn’t quite as bright.

As FloridaPolitics.com reported, the nonpartisan Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability studied eight state incentive programs and found that most of the money went to existing Florida companies that have more than 1,000 employees.

It also found that many of the companies receiving grants from the Innovation Incentive Program failed to hit their marks.

That underscores the notion that these are little more than giveaways that companies that shouldn’t be receiving tax dollars.

Scott tried to turn the tables from his own ambition, questioning what Corcoran has to gain politically. While the Speaker has been quiet about his plans, many wonder if a run for governor in 2018 could be part of his game plan.

“What else could it be,” Scott told reporters during a gaggle Tuesday in Tallahassee.

Well, just spit-balling here, it could be the idea that giving millions of tax dollars to companies who, like Bass Pro, might come here anyway is ethically and morally wrong. From what I can tell by watching and listening to Corcoran, this is not a position he adopted last week because it looks good politically. He really believes that spending needs to be scrutinized and minimized.

I would add that any company needing an “incentive” beyond Florida’s obvious strengths to do business here is probably not a company we need. But that’s just me.

Rob Bradley seeks to repeal Florida’s Certificate of Need program

On Friday, Florida State Sen. Rob Bradley filed a bill to repeal the state’s controversial Certificate of Need program. And Gov. Rick Scott supports the measure.

Senate Bill 676 would eliminate the Certificate of Need (CON) Program at the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Currently, health care providers require a certificate of need prior before building or converting hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices.

Under Bradley’s bill, the Agency for Health Care Administration would develop licensure rules for new providers, and sets guidelines for the licensure of hospitals and hospice facilities.

Bradley, a traditional free-market conservative, believes that competition will help reduce health care costs for consumers.

“By eliminating the state’s restrictive CON process we’ll increase competition and drive down the cost of health care for Floridians,” said Senator Bradley. “For years, this cumbersome process has been used to block the expansion of facilities and restrict competition. So, in addition to driving costs, we should also see a significant economic impact in terms of the creation of new jobs by removing this barrier.”

Gov. Scott, who has been focused on health care cost reform throughout his tenure, backs this play.

“I’ve traveled across our state and spoken with Floridians who have been charged unconscionable prices for procedures. This session, I want to fight to make the healthcare system fair for families and ensure health care works for patients and not for hospitals’ bottom lines. I look forward to working with Senator Bradley to champion this legislation as we continue to help bring greater access, quality, transparency and fairness to patients,” Gov. Scott asserted.

Steering policy in this model: local health councils, which would be selected regionally and would have carve out membership requirements ensuring that all counties in a given area have a say, and ensuring that seniors are represented on the councils.

These panels would provide guidance, and serve as an intermediary between local and state governmental concerns.

These councils would be paid for via assessments on licensed medical facilities, including such as hospices and abortion clinics.

Hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices would pay a fee per bed; other facilities would get a flat rate cost of $150 per annum.

Bradley is making a number of strategic, big picture plays that speak to a larger understanding of collaboration this session.

An example of such: his introduction of a bill Senate President Joe Negron backs, to bond out $1.2 million (a number matched by federal funds) for a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, right around the time he requested $45 million of Amendment 1 funds for the Keystone Lakes and the St. Johns River.

With a conservative Florida House and momentum in the Florida Senate, this may be the year the Certificate of Need program finally goes away.

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Dana Young decries the ‘shrill tone’ coming out of Tallahassee

The clash between Rick Scott and the leaders of the Florida House and Senate have dominated the front pages of several Florida newspapers this week, and Dana Young doesn’t like it one bit.

“There is this angry, shrill tone coming out of Tallahassee, and I truly don’t understand why,” the GOP District 18 state Senator told a crowd of over 50 people at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa on Friday morning.

“I kind of feel that we’re on the same team and we should be working together to get a budget passed,  but this shrill screaming is discouraging,” she continued. “So it could take awhile.”

The biggest public clash has been the different budget proposals unveiled from the governor and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The House plan would eliminate the state’s economic development agency Enterprise Florida and the state’s tourism marketing arm Visit Florida, angering Scott.

The House would also eliminate any public subsidizes for film incentives and sports stadiums. When asked where she came down regarding the issue of giving incentives to recruit businesses to Florida, Young said she saw validity to both arguments, but said she didn’t believe it is necessary to get rid of state agencies.

“It’s an interesting argument,” she said, adding that there was no right answer about whether economic incentives are good or bad. But she did come out strongly in support of Visit Florida, saying their advertising efforts have been the fuel that has led to record tourism numbers in the state the past couple of years.”Why completely do away with an agency that by all appearances is doing a decent job of bringing people here?”

Young represented South Tampa and western Hillsborough County in the Florida House for the past six years before graduating to the Senate representing roughly the same geography last fall. That’s when she defeated Democrat Bob Buesing and independent candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove  in a bruising campaign that led to bitter feelings on all sides.

Third party environmental groups also ganged up on trying to bring Young down, attacking her specifically for her vote in the House on a controversial bill regarding fracking. Young denied the claims that her support for the bill in the 2016 legislative session was a vote of support for fracking, and she’s delighted many of those same groups by introducing a bill (SB 442) that would eliminate fracking in Florida with bipartisan support.

She isn’t ready to say that it will get clear sailing this year, contending that there will be ferocious opposition to the bill, and asked that her constituents have her back when the bill gets debated this spring in Tallahassee.

Young did support Amendment 2, the medical marijuana constitutional amendment that was overwhelmingly supported by the public last fall. However, she’s urging a cautious approach to implementing it, co-sponsoring a bill with Orange Park Republican Rob Bradley (SB 406) that limits the number of marijuana producers to seven, though it could expand to as many as 20 or more medical marijuana producers once the number of patients registered for that treatment reaches 500,000.  A competing bill by St. Petersburg’s Jeff Brandes (SB 614) eliminates the cap on how many marijuana producers there can be in the state and sets up four new types of licenses so companies can be licensed to grow, process, transport or dispense.

Bradley and Young’s proposed legislation would also eliminate the current requirement that doctors treat patients for at least 90 days before being allowed to order marijuana for them. It also would expand to 90 days from 45 days, the amount of marijuana supplies patients can purchase.

Young says she prefers to maintain the concept of vertical integration, which keeps the same company that grows the plant also processes it and dispenses it.

The Senator also discussed her just introduced bill that would allow small craft breweries the opportunity to self-distribute their product to other establishments, saying it demonstrated her support for “the little guy.”

A member in the audience questioned her on why she didn’t embrace that same concept when it came to medical marijuana?

“If we let this genie out of the bottle, there is no putting it back in,” Young responded, acknowledging that there was an inconsistency in her philosophy regarding the two issues.

Like several of her GOP colleagues in the Tampa Bay Area, Young has been a big supporter of ridesharing companies, and a huge critic of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which the local delegation has already voted to eliminate later this year. But Young did take up for the taxicab industry on Friday, saying it is unfair that they have to pay a premium fee to be legally allowed to pick up fares at Tampa International Airport, while Uber and Lyft are doing so without paying anything.

Regarding the upcoming gun debate in the Legislature, Young declined to speak specifically about pending legislation, and instead posited the question as being simply whether more guns or less guns make the public safer. Referring to the fall of 2015 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, she decried the fact that school was a gun-free zone.

“How would you feel if you were that chancellor and you opted not to allow students who were adults with guns, to carry guns on campus when that shooter came in, and they could have killed him,” she said. “But there was nobody there to respond.”

The event was for the “Cafe Con Tampa” lecture series. Co-organizer Del Acosta said the crowd in attendance was the largest in the group’s history.

 

Rick Scott heading to Argentina for trade mission

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is heading off to Argentina for another trade mission.

Scott is scheduled to take a five-day trip in late April to Buenos Aires.

This is Scott’s 13th trip abroad since he became governor in January 2011. Former Gov. Jeb Bush took 16 trade missions during his eight years in office.

Scott has defended the trips as a way to open doors for Florida-based companies seeking business abroad. The Republican governor has made job creation the main focus during his time in office.

He has taken previous economic development trips to the South American countries of Brazil, Colombia and Chile, as well as Japan, Israel, England, France, Spain, Canada and Panama.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Adam Putnam to business leaders: ‘Florida has come too far to turn back now’

Each month, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam looks at the list of top job openings the governor gives him. And each month, the top jobs remains same.

Nursing is usually at the top of the list, tractor-trailer drivers aren’t far behind. And their constant presence at the top of the list tells Putnam this: The state needs to invest in workforce development.

“If you look at all the job vacancies, frequently those vacancies don’t necessarily require a four-year degree,” said Putnam, after brief remarks at Gov. Rick Scott’s 2017 Jobs Summit. “If we want to have manufacturing in the state, that’s industry certifications and trades and training that does not require a university experience. They’re both important, but universities get all the glory.”

Putnam was one of several speakers during the first day of the two-day conference, aimed at bringing business and community leaders together to discuss economic and business development.

While much of the day focused on tax cuts, economic incentives and the need for tourism marketing dollars, Putnam’s remarks focused largely on the importance of keeping talent in Florida.

“We need an education system that prepares a workforce for both STEM degrees and the trades; careers that allow (students) to find their piece of the American dream in Florida,” said Putnam, a likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate. “So the kids that grow up in the Glades, the Suwannee Valley or Northwest Florida don’t need to leave the town they love to find the job they need to feed their families.”

But that means convincing people that workforce education plays an important role in Florida’s future. Putnam said that takes leadership, and said it can be done by focusing on opportunities and wages.

“We create our own luck in business,” he said. “Florida has come too far to turn back now.”

Rick Scott: ‘If we want jobs in this state, our taxes have to be lower’

Gov. Rick Scott made the pitch for an aggressive tax cut plan, saying Florida leaders need to run the state like a business to continue to attract jobs — and job seekers — to the Sunshine State.

The Naples Republican kicked off his 2017 Jobs Summit in Orlando on Thursday. Similar to his 2016 Degrees to Jobs Summit, the two-day event is meant to bring together business and community leaders to discuss economic and business development.

But it’s also a chance for Scott to try to build a coalition of support for his fiscal 2017-18 budget proposal. That spending plan, which Scott officially rolled out earlier this week, included $618 million in tax cuts and $8 million in fee reductions.

“If we want jobs in this state, our taxes have to be lower; we have to have to have less regulation; we have to have government at the city, county and state government level that says ‘I want to solve your problems,’” said Scott.

Scott’s tax cut plan includes cutting the tax on commercial leases by 25 percent in 2018. Florida is the only state in the nation that has a tax on commercial leases, and there has been support for a tax cut in years past. According to the Governor’s Office, the cut could save businesses $454 million a year.

His proposal also includes a one-year sales tax exemption on college textbooks and four sales tax holidays, including a 10-day back-to-school sales tax holiday. His proposal to reduce fees includes reducing the building permit surcharge from 1.5 percent to 1 percent; eliminating sales and use tax registration fees; and reducing fees associated with commercial driving schools.

Those reductions might help businesses down the line, but it could come at a cost to the state’s coffers. While Scott has said there is plenty of money to accommodate his tax cut proposal, state economists project the surplus could be closer to $7.5 million.

“It’s an ambitious tax cut,” said Rep. Jim Boyd, chairman of the House Ways & Means committee. “I don’t know that our numbers are showing the same as his our right now, but certainly I’m interested in cutting taxes.”

Scott, who has also asked for $85 million for economic incentives, called on business leaders to appeal to lawmakers to support his proposal.

“I want to make sure that everyone in the state has a job,” he said.

In Miami Beach minimum wage fight, Philip Levine tells Rick Scott ‘I’ll see you court’

Gov. Rick Scott and state of Florida are joining a lawsuit against Miami Beach over an attempt by the city to ultimately raise its minimum wage to $13.31 an hour.

After Miami Beach approved a measure last year raising its minimum wage ordinance, Mayor Philip Levine predicted the state would challenge the proposal in court. Levine said the ordinance violates a state law signed by Scott that forbids such measures.

On Wednesday, the state did just that, by signing on to a suit filed in December by three of the state’s largest trade groups challenging Miami Beach on the ordinance.

“It’s truly unnerving that the state of Florida, under the leadership of Governor Rick Scott has joined the special-interest-backed lawsuit against the residents of Miami Beach who feel the pressure of wage stagnation,” Levine said Thursday. “We know that wages have not kept up with the cost of living, which is felt more acutely in South Florida communities like Miami Beach.

“Our residents and workers are counting on their leaders to stand up for them after seeing Tallahassee continuously roadblock progress.”

Levine, a Democrat seriously considering a run for governor next year, first proposed increasing his city’s living wage in May 2016; city commissioners approved the measure a few months later.

Scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2018, the proposal would gradually increase the living wage to $10.31, increasing over four years to $13.31.

The new minimum wage will apply to all workers employed in the City of Miami Beach, as well as those covered by the federal minimum wage.

The Florida Retail Federation, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit in December challenging the ordinance. They claim it’s a direct violation of a 2013 law signed by the governor forbidding municipalities from assigning their own minimum wage.

But attorneys for Miami Beach argue the state law is unconstitutional since voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that allows local governments to set higher minimum wage.

Originally pegged at $6.15 an hour, it’s now $8.10 an hour.

“If the state challenges us, the courts will have to decide,” he told FloridaPolitics.com last year.

As to what Levine is saying to the governor today?

“So, to the state, I say, see you in court.”

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