Richard Corcoran Archives - Florida Politics

Richard Corcoran: No predictions on gambling legislation this year

House Speaker Richard Corcoran won’t give an over-under for chances of success for comprehensive gambling legislation this Session.

When asked at a Tuesday press conference, the Land O’ Lakes Republican said: “It’s somewhere between 1 percent and 99 percent certainty.” The House has long been averse to proposals that could be seen as expanding gambling.

After a smile, Corcoran explained: “If you said to me, ‘what’s the likelihood we’re going to see a higher ed bill,’ I’d say 85 percent. ‘What’s the likelihood of another K-12 bill out of the House?’ 85 percent. A gaming bill is one of those few issues where every single day it’s either 1 percent or 99 percent.

“But I don’t want to tell people 1 percent because then they won’t be vigilant. Dams could break and all of a sudden everybody’s on the same page. But it’s one of the hardest things we try to accomplish … We’ve had less than 1 percent success the seven years I’ve been here.”

The Senate already is moving gambling legislation this Session that addresses several issues held over from recent years, such as allowing race tracks to stop running live races while still offering card games, and lowering the slot-machine tax rate. And the House is working on its own bill, expected in the next couple of weeks.

Bills on fantasy sports also have been filed, though they’ve already drawn the ire of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which believes that such games impinge on its gaming exclusivity deal with the state.

One thing is sure: The Legislature has a history of low expectations when it comes to addressing gambling. That includes an effort to permit destination hotel-casinos in South Florida, to allow dog tracks to stop live racing but continue to offer slot machines, and other provisions.

“I just don’t know,” said Corcoran, a possible candidate for governor. “Those conversations are constantly going on. Last year, we got to a point where we were in conference and got very close. Is it possible we could get back to a conference posture and get closer? Yes. And all of the other things going on, the constitutional amendment, could give us additional leverage.”

Lawmakers met in conference committee last year on an omnibus bill, but a bill failed because the two chambers “were too far apart,” said then-House negotiator Jose Felix Diaz. A big sticking point was the Senate’s insistence on a plan to expand slot machines to pari-mutuels in counties that had approved them in local referendums.

Moreover, a citizen initiative to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot mandating voter approval of new gambling recently got enough signatures for ballot placement.

“… We would love to have a long-standing, 20, 30 year certainty of what gaming looks like for Florida,” Corcoran said Tuesday. “At the same time, we would like to see a contraction” of gambling, “given our make-up as a family-values state.”


Legislation: Bullied kids could transfer to private school

A contentious bill that would expand the state’s school voucher system to allow children who are bullied to use tax dollars to pay private school tuition was approved by a Senate committee Monday.

Senate President-designate Bill Galvano’s bill (SB 1172) would establish the Hope Scholarship Program to provide the parent of a public school student subjected to a negative incident at school the opportunity to transfer the student to another public school or to request and receive from the state a scholarship for the student to enroll and attend an eligible private school.

The definition of an incident would be: Battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery, sexual offenses, harassment, threat or intimidation of fighting at school.

The House version is sponsored by Naples Republican Byron Donalds (HB 1), but is strongly backed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has steadfastly supported school-choice policies.

Public school advocates told the Senate Education Committee that the bill was just another attempt to divert funds from public schools to private ones.

“We believe this is simply a voucher expansion bill, and like all of Florida’s voucher programs, we’re concerned about the complete lack of academic lack of academic accountability for these children,” said Sue Woltanski with the group Common Ground.

“This bill opens the door to universal vouchers in Florida,” said Stephanie Kunkel, representing the Florida Education Association. “The bill has the direct result of removing general revenue from schools and other programs.” The Hope Scholarship Program would be funded through a tax-credit program associated with the purchase of a motor vehicle.

Democrats on the panel weren’t so cynical, but all pressed for changes to the legislation.

Sen. Gary Farmer said he was worried that the legislation didn’t fully addressing protecting the student from being bullied at the private school he or she may migrate to after leaving the public school. And he noted how public schools and charter schools are required to report to the state the number of bullying incidents, but private schools aren’t.

Galvano said he would look into the issue.

Reviewing the categories that would qualify for a public school student to attempt to leave his or her school and move to a private institution, Thonotosassa Republican Tom Lee wondered about the legal definitions of some of them. He said he wasn’t sure what was the definition of harassment or bullying in this particular context.

“This is part of life to some extent, and kids are going to make threats and intimidate one another on occasion, and I just don’t want to create an environment where we don’t have real good strict definitions or some pattern of behavior develop where someone doesn’t like what somebody said to him and they consider it a threat,” Lee said.

He later added that sometimes such incidents were in the eye of the beholder. In the 2015-2016 school year in Florida, there were over 32,000 total incidents reported about fighting or physical attack in state public schools.

House eyes potential tax cuts

A further reduction in a business-lease taxes, lifting sales taxes on diapers and aircraft and holding sales-tax “holidays” were among proposals that a key House committee heard Monday as lawmakers start to put together a tax-cut package for the coming year.

The measures presented to the House Ways & Means Committee had already been submitted as individual bills and, if all were approved, would well exceed the $180 million in tax and fee cuts requested by Gov. Rick Scott.

Ways & Means Chairman Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican, was quick to say not all of the proposals would advance. He also said other measures — such as Scott’s proposal to decrease fees on motorists — may not need much vetting.

“It’s pretty straightforward,” Renner said about Scott’s request to reduce driver’s license fees. “It has a fiscal (impact).”

By dropping renewal fees for regular driver’s licenses from $48 to $20 and the cost of first-time licenses from $48 to $27, the governor’s office estimates motorists would save $91 million during the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Renner added he’s not been given a tax-cut target by House Speaker Richard Corcoran or started talks with his Senate counterpart Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican who is chairwoman of Senate Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee.

“We’ll certainly try to work with the governor on some of his ideas, and those include a back-to-school tax holiday, includes a disaster-preparedness tax holiday, which we discussed today,” Renner said.

In addition to proposing lower motorist fees, Scott has also proposed a 10-day back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on clothes and school supplies and three week-long disaster preparedness tax “holidays” in May, June and July.

Scott’s proposed tax and fee cuts are the smallest package he has proposed as governor. The state was expected to have a modest budget surplus during the upcoming fiscal year, but costs related to Hurricane Irma have made the budget even tighter.

Under the package released by Scott, the proposed sales tax “holidays” would account for $88 million of the tax savings.

The Ways & Means Committee heard another proposed (HB 519) sales tax “holiday” on Monday. That proposal would allow small businesses to avoid collecting sales taxes on items costing up to $1,000 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The small-business holiday would counter the big-box store dominated “Black Friday” shopping that traditionally marks the start of the year-end shopping season.

The committee on Monday also heard a couple of measures to lower a tax on commercial leases that has been a target for elimination by lawmakers and business groups for years.

One proposal (HB 939) would further lower the business rent tax, which went from 6 percent to 5.8 percent as part of a tax package last year.

Under a proposal by Rep. Jackie Toledo, a Tampa Republican, the rate would drop to 5 percent, which could save $218 million for businesses.

“Of course, I would love to eliminate it, but this would be more amenable to the budget because we do have a budget deficit,” Toledo said.

Last year’s cut to the lease tax was projected as providing annual savings of $61 million. It was part of a $180 million tax-cut package advanced by lawmakers. Scott did not include reducing the lease tax in his proposed package for the upcoming year.

Meanwhile, Rep. Larry Ahern, a Seminole Republican, wants the House committee to consider a separate measure (HB 409) that would phase out the rent tax over the next decade.

Under a proposal (HB 6045) before the committee by Rep. Mike Miller, a Winter Park Republican, aircraft sales and leases would be exempt from sales taxes. Miller said the proposal would help protect the aircraft industry in Florida.

“I’m not necessarily looking for the high-end user,” Miller said. “I’m fighting for the men or women who are actually working behind the scenes to keep it operable and keep it safe.”

Rep. Mike Grant, a Port Charlotte Republican, said the state is losing jobs as aircraft built in Florida are moved to other states to be sold.

The committee also looked at proposals to provide sales-tax exemptions for baby diapers, adult diapers and baby wipes (HB 163) and bed handles, hospital beds, lifts, handrails, toilet seat risers (HB 1123).

House ready to take up anti-tax constitutional amendment

In a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott, the House next week will consider a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it harder to raise taxes and fees in Florida.

The House is scheduled during a floor session Wednesday to take up the proposal (HJR 7001), filed by Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican. Under it, future tax and fee increases would require approval from two-thirds of the House and Senate.

If lawmakers approve the proposed constitutional amendment, it would go on the November ballot.

The House is expected to take up nearly two-dozen measures during the floor session Wednesday.

Others include a bill (HB 27), filed by Republican Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers, that would end the controversial “certificate of need” regulatory process for approval of new hospital facilities and programs.

The House also is expected to consider a bill (HB 67), filed Miami Democrat Kionne McGhee and Port St. Lucie Republican Larry Lee Jr. that would lead to creation of a slavery memorial at the state Capitol.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Judge sides with House in subpoena battle

A federal judge Friday refused to block subpoenas issued by the Florida House of Representatives demanding documents from broadcasting executive Pat Roberts and his production company, MAT Media, related to contracts with the tourism-marketing agency VISIT FLORIDA.

A House committee in October issued subpoenas to Roberts, who is the longtime president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, and the production company. The contracts at issue include $11.6 million for a cooking show featuring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. Roberts refused to comply with the subpoenas, and two court cases focused on the contracts and the subpoenas are pending in Leon County circuit court.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran and the Florida House last week again issued subpoenas demanding records about the contracts with the state tourism agency.

The subpoenas gave Roberts until 5 p.m. Tuesday to turn over the records or risk $1,000-per day fines and 90 days in jail for each day he did not produce the documents.

Lawyers for Roberts asked U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to block the subpoenas, saying they violated his constitutional right to due process.

But on Friday, Walker said the issue wasn’t ripe because there wasn’t a “concrete controversy” before the court.

“We’re not even there because there’s not an imminent threat of injury,” Walker said.

Rep. Larry Metz, a Yahala Republican who serves as chairman of the committee that issued the original subpoenas, and several other Republican House members were among the spectators in the courtroom. Also watching was Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, a former president of the American Bar Association and former president of Florida State University.

Tim Jansen, a lawyer representing Roberts, told Walker that his client could be personally sued if he turned over some of the documents, which contain trade secrets. And, Jansen said, the request for income tax returns is a violation of his property rights.

Walker acknowledged that the subpoenas — signed by Corcoran from the rostrum during a floor session and immediately dispatched by a process server, who was waiting in the speaker’s office — equate to “a certain 1,000-pound gorilla.”

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘bullying,’ but some might use the word,” Walker said, saying the House may have been “posturing” by issuing the subpoenas.

While no case law exists for the unprecedented move by the House, the judge said there are rulings that found rare instances when subpoenas issued by Congress can be overturned by the courts. The only time that can happen is when the subpoenas are unrelated to issues within the scope of a committee’s purpose.

But, in the request for the VISIT FLORIDA documents, lawmakers are “rooting out information dealing with the public purse,” Walker said.

“The Legislature does get to say, if we want to continue to spend money on VISIT FLORIDA, let’s figure out how it’s being spent,” he said. “Are we buying a pig in a poke or are we engaging in contracts that make sense for the public purse?”

Adam Tanenbaum, general counsel for the House, assured Walker that Roberts’ arrest wasn’t imminent. Only the full House — which won’t meet until Wednesday — could decide that Roberts is in contempt and decide to impose the sanctions.

But Tanenbaum said that wasn’t likely to happen. Roberts’ lawyers turned over some documents on Tuesday and are negotiating with Tanenbaum about the release of other records and how to keep them from being kept secret from the public.

“We’re optimistic that, at this point, we’ll be able to get those documents from MAT Media and Mr. Roberts,” Tanenbaum said.

Even if the House did approve the contempt charge, Roberts would have an opportunity to defend himself, Tanenbaum promised.

“Nothing has happened yet, and there’s not even the suggestion that something is going to happen,” Tanenbaum argued, saying it was too soon for the court to issue the preliminary injunction sought by Roberts and his company.

Although Walker sided with Corcoran and the House, he had some harsh words for the lawmakers.

The judge questioned why the House would issue the new subpoenas while two court cases were pending on the matter, accusing them of doing “an end run to subvert the state courts.”

“Can the Florida Legislature really subpoena me for whatever they want and whenever they want, and, if I refuse to respond, they can throw me in jail?” Walker asked. “Sounds a little Orwellian to me.”

But Tanenbaum said the House issued the subpoenas because it was “the only thing it has the power to do to get the documents it has been seeking” since April, when the House began probing the contracts.

After delivering his decision from the bench, Walker expounded on his rationale.

“If Mr. Roberts was being hauled off and taken into custody … I suspect I may have a very different view of separation of powers,” he said. “But that’s not what we have here.”

Even if such harm was imminent, Walker said his power to do something was limited, and “the only thing I could say” to the Legislature was “follow the law.”

But Walker found that there was “nothing to show that the Florida Legislature is going to willy-nilly” impose penalties on Roberts.

The judge concluded with a mini-lecture for the Legislature.

“I in no way minimize the significance of having an august body like the House say you’re going to turn over documents or we’re going to throw you in jail,” Walker said, adding that there’s “probably a reason why it’s never been done before.”

“I am going to respectfully suggest to the Florida Legislature, just as I am cautious about exercising my authority, my colleagues in the other two branches should likewise comport themselves,” he concluded.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

AFP-FL says ‘no way’ to Amazon HQ2 incentives

Miami made the cut when Amazon announced its top-20 shortlist for its second headquarters Thursday, but Americans for Prosperity Florida says the retail giant shouldn’t get any state incentives if it chooses to set up shop in South Florida.

“Miami would be a fantastic choice for Amazon’s HQ2, but not if it means having taxpayers fork over hundreds of millions of dollars for the supposed privilege. Instead of focusing on what Florida’s taxpayers have to offer, Amazon should look at what our skilled workforce and pro-growth economic environment can provide,” said AFP-FL Director Chris Hudson.

“Thanks to the leadership of free market champions like Speaker Richard Corcoran, Florida has shown how implementing free-market principles can help our state become more competitive and business-friendly, and we should not stray away from that by enriching private corporations at the expense of taxpayer money. Amazon is a private business that does not deserve taxpayer handouts.”

The AFP-FL statement comes after Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott gave differing opinions on how the Sunshine State should go about courting the Seattle-based company.

“The way I always look at any incentives we give, we’ve got to get a good return for taxpayers. That’s what I’ve done at the state. I’m going to continue to talk to companies around the world to try to get them to come here,” Scott said Friday.

Corcoran on the other hand, told News Service of Florida the state should focus on other priorities that would improve the state which could also attract companies without the use of incentives money.

“Here’s what we ought to do as a state. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face,” Corcoran said. “There are five things that site selectors look at. The most important being having a great educational system.”

“If you have low crime, low taxes, low regulation, a good infrastructure and you have, more than anything, a great educational system, we will not have a single problem luring all the businesses and all the people in this country here,” Corcoran added.

Amazon HQ2 will be a complete headquarters for Amazon, not a satellite office, according to the company. The company reported it plans to invest over $5 billion and grow this second headquarters to accommodate as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. In addition, the company projects that construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.

Amazon said it expects to pick the city for its HQ 2 later this year.

Incentives for Amazon? Richard Corcoran, Rick Scott see it differently

Gov. Rick Scott was in Ponte Vedra Friday as the PGA Tour unveiled plans for a new global headquarters — and 300 jobs to go with that build out.

Yet one of the topics we broached with the Governor in the gaggle had to do with a potentially bigger future job announcement … if Amazon locates its second global headquarters in Miami.

Miami is the sole Florida city being considered still. Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando were eliminated.

And many areas are offering deluxe incentives for Amazon — a potentially transformative corporate partner for even the biggest cities in the world. It’s been a top priority for Enterprise Florida, a board that accords with Gov. Scott’s vision.

While specifics of those incentives are not public, it was clear from Scott’s remarks Friday that his position hasn’t changed; incentives are part of the tool kit.

Scott called it “exciting” that Amazon was considering Miami, saying there are “lots of reasons why they should do that.”

“Taxes are low in this state, we have less regulation, a great workforce. U.S. News and World Report says our higher education system is the best higher education system in the country,” Scott said.

But the Governor realizes that’s not the whole story. Incentives, which will be offered elsewhere, are part of the sales pitch.

“The way I always look at any incentives we give, we’ve got to get a good return for taxpayers. That’s what I’ve done at the state. I’m going to continue to talk to companies around the world to try to get them to come here,” Scott said.

Scott’s position diverges from that of Speaker Corcoran, who said that companies pass on Florida for reasons that go beyond incentives.

“Here’s what we ought to do as a state. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face,” Corcoran told News Service of Florida. “There are five things that site selectors look at. The most important being having a great educational system.”

“If you have low crime, low taxes, low regulation, a good infrastructure and you have, more than anything, a great educational system, we will not have a single problem luring all the businesses and all the people in this country here,” Corcotan added.

With multiple cities offering upwards of a billion dollars in tax breaks, it’s at least debatable that low crime and low regulations will counteract material incentives.

Yet that seems to be a debate Corcoran and Scott will have as each prepares to leave their current offices.

E-Verify proposal opposed by ag and construction groups heads to full CRC

An immigration measure heading toward the full Constitutional Revision Commission would require all employers in the state to use a federal electronic system to verify the legal work eligibility of every new hire drew criticism on Friday from agriculture and business groups concerned with filling a worker shortage in their industries.

Representatives with the Florida Farm Bureau and the Florida Homeowners Associations said the verification system, called E-Verify, would make it more difficult to find workers to work in the fields and in the home building industry.

“The immigrant community is not opposed to E-Verify, but the visa program is broken,” Adam Blalock, an attorney with the Florida Farm Bureau, said.

Christopher Emmanuel, of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, also opposed the proposal saying that if it goes on the November ballot and voters approve it, the system’s “unintended consequences” will be harder to fix.

“We are putting it in a nearly permanent and nearly unchangeable place,” he said.

Emmanuel is skeptical about the program’s “random auditing program,” which would allow employers and employees to be investigated.

The proposal cleared its last panel with a unanimous vote on Friday, but commissioners Chris Nocco and Jose Felix Diaz, a former state representative most recently hired by the Ballard Firm, still questioned if the proposal should be part of the state constitution.

Nocco and Diaz were both appointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a big proponent of tougher immigration enforcement in the state.

“I think (E-Verify) is a good idea, but I think it needs to go back to the Legislature,” Commissioner Chris Nocco said. “It is not enforceable and it is a feel-good band aid.”

Nocco had reservations about the fiscal costs the new system would bring to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which is tasked with licensing and regulating more than a million businesses in the state.

“This is a lot of responsibility on them and the fiscal impact needs to be addressed along with the unintended consequences that can go with (the system),” Nocco added.

Attorney Rich Newsome, a commissioner also appointed by Corcoran, is championing the measure and said the issue has failed to garner legislative support in past years because of “wealthy lobbyists” tied to agriculture and construction. The same groups that opposed his proposal on Friday.

But Newsome believes that if the system is implemented statewide it will prevent illegal employment of undocumented immigrants in the future and protect undocumented workers from exploitation.

Newsome cited a Naples Daily News investigation that found businesses and insurers in the state profit from undocumented workers and then dump them after they are injured. He said a system like E-Verify would help put a stop to that.

Nearly 800 undocumented workers in Florida have been charged with workers’ compensation benefit fraud for using illicit Social Security numbers to either get their jobs, file for workers’ compensation benefits, or both.

As Newsome’s proposal heads to its final stop before it can go on the November ballot, he said he is open to “tweaking the language.”

Richard Corcoran says lawmakers will look at rail issues

House Speaker Richard Corcoran said a push by some lawmakers for state oversight of high-speed passenger rail will get consideration during this year’s Legislative Session.

But he offered little detail, as opponents want to put the brakes on a controversial new rail service in South Florida following a second recent death on the tracks.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, said Thursday in an interview with The News Service of Florida that a rail proposal (HB 525) will “have movement” this year. But he also spoke about the rights of the private All Aboard Florida and its Brightline rail service, which has started running between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s important, and we’ll keep following it and looking at it,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran’s comments came as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday to investigate two fatalities in the past week — both in Boynton Beach — involving Brightline trains.

“While these investigations are ongoing, I urge you to examine these incidents and to review the safety of rail crossings, particularly for higher speed trains,” Nelson wrote in a letter.

Also, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican whose Treasure Coast district has provided the strongest opposition to the rail service, tweeted the trains should be stopped while “massive safety flaws” are addressed. Brightline is ultimately planned to run from Orlando to Miami and has been fought by residents and local governments on the Treasure Coast.

Brightline said in a news release that the system is “designed to prevent and protect people from incidents like those that occurred in recent days.”

“Those systems functioned as intended,” the release stated. “Our focus is on expanding our efforts to educate the community about rail safety alongside our partners at Operation Lifesaver, Tri-Rail, local law enforcement, city and county officials.”

Treasure Coast lawmakers have filed proposals for this Session that would lead to the state Department of Transportation having oversight of passenger-rail issues not preempted by federal law.

The measures also would require private passenger-rail operations to cover the costs of installing and maintaining safety technology at crossings unless contracts are reached with local governments.

Brightline has questioned the constitutionality of legislation that targets a private company and private property rights and contends the measures are designed to stop the service.

During the 2017 Session, a similar House proposal failed to get through committees, and this year’s version, sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, a Vero Beach Republican, and Rep. MaryLynn Magar, a Tequesta Republican, has not been scheduled to appear before a committee.

Asked if transit like Brightline will make the state more competitive, Corcoran first said autonomous vehicles would be more economical.

“But that’s a private enterprise,” he continued, pivoting to the passenger rail service. “If private enterprise thinks they can make money having a train that runs from Miami to Orlando, then have at it,” Corcoran said. “That’s their decision. And whether they succeed or fail is up to the marketplace.”

The Senate version (SB 572), filed by Rockledge Republican Debbie Mayfield, has drawn support from one committee and is scheduled to appear Tuesday as a workshop item at the Community Affairs Committee.

Mayfield has urged passage of her bill following the death Wednesday of a man in Boynton Beach who was hit by one of the new trains while bicycling across the tracks. Less than a week earlier, a woman was hit while crossing the tracks ahead of a train as the service was showing its service to reporters and others.

“Two deaths in six days is two too many,” Mayfield tweeted. “These senseless deaths only confirm the need for the legislature to pass #SB572 in order to put protections and safety measures in place to protect Floridians.”

House Speaker rejects state aid for Miami’s Amazon bid

After playing the key role in reducing and revamping Florida’s economic development program last year, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday he has no interest in developing a state incentive plan to bring Amazon’s new headquarters to Florida.

Florida suddenly became a contender for the giant online retailer’s second headquarters — dubbed HQ2 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — after Miami emerged as one of 20 finalists for the project, which could generate some $5 billion in spending and lead to 50,000 jobs.

Miami, which was competing with 238 other cities, was the only finalist in Florida, although the Miami bid also includes sites in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Gov. Rick Scott, who has supported using state funding and incentives to bring major employers to the state, said it was “great news” that Miami is a finalist.

“With our low taxes, unbeatable weather and world-class airports and seaports, there is no doubt Florida should be the number one choice,” Scott tweeted.

In an interview with The News Service of Florida on Thursday, Corcoran said he was doubtful that Florida would end up as the location for the Amazon project, citing remarks by Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo, a Hialeah Republican who formerly served in the state House.

Bovo told The Miami Herald in October that Miami-Dade’s transportation challenges would ultimately eliminate Miami from contention.

“What was the reason?” Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, asked. “There’s not enough money? We didn’t throw enough incentives? No, (it’s) because of their infrastructure and their transit issues.”

Corcoran listed the items he said “site selectors” consider when relocating.

“Here’s what we ought to do as a state. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face,” Corcoran said. “There are five things that site selectors look at. The most important being having a great educational system.”

Corcoran said the key factor in Florida losing out to Boston in trying to attract the General Electric headquarters was that the Boston area had better schools, from kindergarten through the university level.

He said Florida — the third largest state in the nation — in contrast only recently had one of its schools, the University of Florida, make the U.S. News & World Report top 10 list of public universities.

“That’s a problem,” Corcoran said. “There’s where the investments should have been made and should continue to be made. If you have low crime, low taxes, low regulation, a good infrastructure and you have, more than anything, a great educational system, we will not have a single problem luring all the businesses and all the people in this country here.”

Corcoran’s remarks are in line with his effort last year to overhaul economic incentive programs in Enterprise Florida, the state’s top economic development agency. The final result was an $85 million “job growth” fund that can be used for regional projects but not for incentives aimed at individual companies.

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