Tentative deal in place to preserve VISIT FLORIDA

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No details of the deal have been announced.

VISIT FLORIDA will live at least another year with the House losing the game of budget chicken on the issue.

In recent Legislative Sessions, the House and Speaker José Oliva have eyed the state marketing agency for budget cuts.

“They really are an amazing marketing company,” he told reporters Friday through a grin. “They have made us believe that they should exist, so you’ve got to give them that.”

Oliva gave no further details on the House and Senate’s plans. Budget conferences begin Saturday at 2 p.m.

Of the $35 billion in general revenue outlined for budget talks, the House Transportation and Tourism and Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development conference committees will have $201.4 million to play with.

The Senate outlined $52.5 million for VISIT FLORIDA in its budget while Gov. Ron DeSantis asked for $76 million in November. The House made no initial offer for the agency.

As recently as last month, Oliva didn’t seem eager to strike a deal. That came as Senators unanimously approved SB 362, filed by Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper, which would extend the agency until October 2028.

But with concerns about the novel coronavirus’ impact on the state’s tourism industry, fears of declining state revenue may have tipped the scales somewhat. Senate President Bill Galvano acknowledged the possibility in a recent press conference.

“I think that’s a valid concern. I think, if you look at what’s happening already, whether or not people are deciding, which they are, you also have travel bans that are taking place, and that means we need to continue to put emphasis on our reserves, and that’s why … it also makes another case for having a messaging entity like VISIT FLORIDA,” he said.

Oliva, who begrudgingly greenlighted the agency’s funding in 2019, made a staunch rhetorical case against what he called a “waste of $30 million” in the Tampa Bay Times in December.

The House Speaker spotlighted inefficiencies: “Over the last three years, VISIT FLORIDA spent about 55% to 58% of its total operating budget on media production and operations directly targeting potential tourists. The remaining dollars are spent on salaries and benefits, fees and services, and things like travel, telephone, and office space.”

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • steve grabarczyk

    March 6, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Yea Lyin Dana Young is making 170K/year, thats where the waste is. She is useless. I would take the job at half the salary and do it 100% better than her. She is a waste and a disgrace.

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      March 7, 2020 at 9:48 am

      Oh, another far left parrot squawking the party line. Laughable.

Comments are closed.


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