House Speaker Jose Oliva all but promised to authorize VISIT FLORIDA for one more year.
During a press gaggle on the House floor, Oliva said Gov. Ron DeSantis would like a year to assess the state’s tourism marketing arm.
The Speaker said he was fine with that. That way, DeSantis could “make an assessment of his own on how unnecessary it is.”
The comments came shortly after budget conference meetings between the House and Senate left the matter as funded only till the organization expires Oct. 1.
Because the House has yet to reauthorize Florida beyond that sunset, lawmakers “closed out” VISIT FLORIDA line item.
Sen. Travis Hutson said decisions on future funding will be bumped up to the Appropriations chairs, Rep. Travis Cummings and Sen. Rob Bradley.
The House hasn’t budged from its position of $19 million in funding.
Bradley told reporters yesterday that the talks really turn on whether the House will pass a bill to reauthorize the agency. He suggested there are untapped pots of money that could be used if needed to keep the agency running.
“The Senate’s position has been clear,” Bradley said. “We want to see VISIT FLORIDA continue.”
Oliva said the reauthorization of the agency will likely need to be taken up in the implementing bill. The House finished its business midday Friday and did not plan to reconvene till Monday.
But when asked about whether he was OK with fully funding the agency for one more year, he pushed back.
“OK is a strong word,” he said.
Oliva said he maintains strong feelings against VISIT FLORIDA, an agency which has suffered withering criticism in the House in recent years.
But it also appears the Speaker doesn’t want to snub the Governor on the issue.
“I don’t know about fully funding it,” he said, “but it’s something the Governor wants to see and assess, and we want to be supportive of him.”