With lawmakers agreeing on $50 million for VISIT FLORIDA, one of the more-dramatic story arcs of the Legislative Session appears resolved.
House Appropriations Chair Travis Cummings on Monday night unveiled a plan to spend an extra $31 million on VISIT FLORIDA and keep the agency running at least through June 2020.
Lower-level budget negotiators had previously agreed to fund the agency at just $19 million, a $57 million cut from the 2018-19 appropriation. Those conferees did not act on a looming October sunset date for VISIT FLORIDA.
Leading up to budget conferences, the House took a hard stance against the tourism-marketing agency, recommending $19 million to keep the entity alive until October.
The Senate passed a budget that provides $50 million for the agency and backed a bill that repealed its sunset date.
The latest change is a compromise: A sunset-date extension and the Senate’s original $50 million appropriation.
“As we get into next Session we’ll have to determine whether [VISIT FLORIDA funding is] something that’s reviewed on a yearly basis or authorized for multiple years,” Cummings told reporters after the conference.
The Job Growth Grant Fund, which both chambers completely cut before passing their budgets in early April, also received some last-minute saving grace.
The House offered up $40 million for the fund, which doles out money for projects that have an eye toward economic development.
Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley said Gov. Ron DeSantis played a hand in the grant fund’s revival.
“It was a request from the Governor and we honored that request,” Bradley said.