As the Florida legislature gets ready to start its annual session a week from Tuesday, there is a bitter divide between the House Speaker and the Governor over funding the state’s tourism and business marketing arms. The latest chapter is dueling videos.
Rick Scott is making the incentives fight personal.
“and one of them is your state rep, right here” he told an audience in Panama City.
After 9 GOP House members voted to strip Visit and Enterprise Florida of funding, Scott went to their districts to pressure their constituents.
“How could anybody saw we are going to turn our backs on jobs” he asked.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran responded with a video criticizing the incentives.
Now the Governor is responding in kind.
“If we quit marketing this state, we’re in big trouble” said business owner Rick Case in the video.
Asked about the personal attack, the House Speaker says he won’t punch back.
“If Governor Scott poked me in the Chest, I would take it, um, ten out of ten times. He’s been avery good man to me and my family” the Speaker told reporters.
The first sign of compromise came this past week when the House voted to keep Visit Florida, but they still want to scrap a job incentives program.
A powerful House committee is suggesting giving visit florida 25 million..a third of what was spent last year. The compromise was due in large part to pressure from people like Carol Dover. She’s the CEO of the restaurant and Lodging association.
“I spent years on the Visit Florida board when we were at 25 million, and we could not the ceiling of 82, 84, 85 million tourists. We now have additional funding. Where are we. We’re at 112 million visitors” says Dover.
And any level of funding is guaranteed to come with a catch: increased oversight.
The House Speaker calls the debate over incentives spirited and while tense, useful and important.