Enterprise Florida’s Bill Johnson unloads on AFP-Florida over anti-incentives ads

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Americans for Prosperity-Florida, a Koch brothers-affiliated group, has at times gotten under the nerves of Florida Republicans with their intense advocacy on issues.

It’s taken a tight bead on Gov. Rick Scott‘s $250 million request for Enterprise Florida. Scott claims the agency is underfunded, making it unable to compete with Florida’s strongest competitors for job growth and company relocation.

AFP-Florida raised the stakes Monday with a Web ad that calls Floridians to direct their lawmakers to oppose such economic incentive packages. The 30-second spot urges Florida voters to remind lawmakers “they work for you.”

That was too much for Bill Johnson, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida. He issued a statement Tuesday via the Governor’s Press Office, denying AFP-Florida’s claim that the governor is seeking corporate welfare.

“Governor Scott’s proposal would support Florida’s efforts to win competitive projects with a guaranteed return on investment to ensure taxpayer dollars are protected while helping grow jobs in our state,” Johnson said. “This fund would only invest state dollars in companies when they meet their job creation and capital investment requirements, while allowing Florida to compete with other states for major job creation projects.”

Johnson didn’t stop there, though. He cited a report by a group called Good Jobs First, which shows how Koch Industries has itself benefited from $196 million worth of incentive money from various governments that it purports to oppose.

“Koch Industries is willing to use taxpayer money to benefit their business, but opposing the Florida Enterprise Fund means they will not let small and growing businesses in Florida access incentive dollars,” Johnson said. “AFP should immediately suspend their campaign against the Florida Enterprise Fund, which would help small and growing businesses create jobs for everyday Floridians – not just corporate giants.  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

AFP-Florida said it would not let those charges stand.

“AFP-FL has been consistent on this issue for years,” spokesman Andres Malave said. “We oppose corporate welfare subsidies across the board, regardless of industry. We will not give in to baseless accusations from quasi-governmental agencies looking out for their own dime. We fight for taxpayers! Enterprise Florida should better explain why the hardworking taxpayers of Florida should pay more and get less for their tax dollars.”
AFP-Florida contends that if the Legislature has $250 million to spend on “cash handouts for private businesses,” that the money is returned to taxpayers. It also questions the merits of the plan, saying that Johnson and Scott are selling the plan to legislators with the idea it will help small businesses and startups. However, AFP-F says 85 percent of Florida businesses are small businesses with less than ten employees, which under the plan are ineligible for incentive programs.
Scott’s proposal has support in the Senate, and is currently being debated in the House. The legislative session is scheduled to end on March 12.
AFP-Florida has also launched a direct mail campaign thanking House members who earlier voted against incentive proposals in different committees. It also sent mailers to people living in districts represented by senators who supported incentive proposals to inform residents of their vote.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]


5 comments

  • Michael cannestro

    February 24, 2016 at 6:02 am

    I’ve sent this out to as many members as I have in my phone teamsters and IA along with casting. PLEASE READ THIS article
    I want to help along with others the got to be something we can do more of to counter

    Read this article it’s about the American for prosperity is putting out flyers against the film incentive in Florida American for prosperity is owned by the Koch brothers the Koch brothers are heavily invested in Georgia film industry it’s time for the truth about AFP

    Right now am working on ballers, 300 plus people working 4-5 months on this project. We will have paid hotels, food, fuel, rental equipment, Expendables, extras back ground, catering, shipping, office rentals, truck rental lots, car rentals etc, etc.
    All taxable all of which keeps people working business open that extra push for florida.
    Not including the free advertising for the state of florida.
    Multiple that with Bloodline, baywatch, bad boys, print ads, low budgets shows ,studios, commercials.
    IS THE AFP really belive Florida’s are that stupid to belive there lies, because the have self interest in Georgia.
    One important fact when work goes away more works go on unemployment.
    Now dose that sound like American for prosperity

  • Maykel sanchez

    February 24, 2016 at 6:33 am

    The incentive is a very good positive bills for us who leave in florida it means more jobs, and it will help the economy

  • juan c

    February 24, 2016 at 11:05 am

    The kock brothers or better said the crook brother are lying to floridians so we loose our movie incentives and all the work goes to Georgia where they are heavily invested and teady to make millions from all the work that doesn’t and we loose out come to florida and we loose out on bringing more jobs to florida I thought AFP was suppose to help americans prosper but it turns out they are just back by crooks the cock bros recruting americans to do their dirty work will protecting their interest and making millions while floridians strugle and georgia and the crook bothers prosper open your eyes florida we are smarter than that

  • Mark Pulaski

    February 24, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I work in extras casting, and we’ve employed over 2000 people in season 2 alone.

  • HP Skinner

    March 1, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    For whatever it’s worth six days later, AFP doesn’t actually care about corporate welfare or any of that crap. Koch Industries thrives on receiving corporate welfare. This is all about denying unions, plain and simple. Enterprise Florida uses union workers, and the film industry uses union workers. They’re afraid if people are reminded of how unions can protect their members and give them a wage they can live on, then unions will start to make a comeback, cutting into the Koch’s bottom line.

Comments are closed.


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