Gov. Rick Scott, while on a trade mission to Argentina, urged the Florida Legislature to include his economic incentives programs when finalizing the next state budget.
“Lawmakers cannot be shortsighted at the expense of Florida families by cutting funds for tourism marketing and economic development,” Scott said in a written statement distributed by his office.
“I would be absolutely shocked if politicians in the Florida Legislature put their self-interests before the interests of our families and small businesses,” he wrote.
“Let’s remember, fully funding Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida is only 0.24 percent of Florida’s state budget. But, reducing this funding will have a significant impact on state, county, city, and local tourism and economic development boards’ revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars.”
It was the second time in as many days that Scott has spoken up for his economic development programs. Tuesday, his office distributed a letter from Division of Bond Finance director Ben Watkins to the House and Senate budget chairmen, warning that cutting Visit Florida could damage the state’s credit rating.
Senate President Joe Negron said Wednesday that the House and Senate had agreed on the rough outlines of a budget compromise but not the details. He did not say what it would mean for economic development programs.
House Appropriations Chairman Carlos Trujillo omitted the programs when discussing the negotiations Tuesday evening.
However, aides to the governor and lobbyists said earlier this week that Enterprise Florida would be zeroed-out.
Visit Florida‘s budget would be capped at $50 million, and House accountability measures for the public-private tourism marketing agency would imposed, including pay caps and limiting employees’ travel expenses.