The Florida legislature is under siege by concerned Florida taxpayers who have had enough of state politicians and Florida Governor Scott picking winners and losers. Florida taxpayers have been on the hook for billions of dollars spent in tax breaks and outright cash incentives to corporations doing business in Florida. These range from taxpayer paid boondoggles such as Digital Domain to stadiums for billionaire-owned sports teams to the hectomillionaires in the film industry. Many are on the public dole, from the federal level all the way down to your city council.
On February 8, 2017, a Florida House committee voted to eliminate Enterprise Florida as well as other failed initiatives such as Sports and Film incentive programs. Enterprise Florida is the state’s corporate welfare cheerleader and there are many county versions as well. Groups like the Libertarian Party of Florida, the Liberty First Network and Americans for Prosperity Florida as well as some liberal groups are working to end corporate welfare in the state. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Republican from Land O’ Lakes is leading the charge in the Florida House.
Even the capitalistic magazine Forbes has found corporate welfare to be a waste for taxpayers. In an article last year, writer George Leef made the case for both Democrats and Republicans to stop the handouts. Last year, the Wall Street Journal came out with an article showing how poor the returns are for corporate welfare. Yet, Republicans and Democrats seem all to happy to continue the handouts even though they have been educated about how bad the policy is for taxpayers.
“The same politicians who cried foul on Barack Obama for creating winners and losers through failed taxpayer-funded corporate welfare were guilty themselves of doing the same,” Karl Dickey, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County said this morning. “While many of these elected officials are well-intentioned, sometimes one has to wonder when they are given the facts, yet they continue the same behavior. The only reason this continues is because the voting public is misinformed or do not realize what is going on, so they continue to vote for these knuckleheads.”
Many residents do not know that while most businesses have their hand out for the cash, the corporations are so embarrassed about receiving the money, their identity is often changed in official public documents. For example, when the Palm Beach County Commission votes to hand out corporate welfare, the company receiving the taxpayer money is rarely mentioned; instead, it is listed as Project “X” or Company “X”. They are often given covert names as if it is a big game to keep this information from the public. This practice creates unfair advantages for those companies on the public dole to those who choose to take the moral road and utilize the free market (the voluntary public) to grow their business or make their film.
Governor Scott wants $85 million in economic incentives for business development agency Enterprise Florida and $76 million for tourism marketing agency Visit Florida. In addition to Enterprise Florida, a growing number of Floridians feel the state’s tourism agency should be scrapped and have businesses pay to bring business to their businesses.
Speaking about the win in the Florida House bill to end corporate welfare, Chris Hudson of Americans for Prosperity Florida said on February 8, 2017, “Economic incentives are a failed policy that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The members that took up this bill today are not responsible for the creation of these bloated subsidies, but they can be champions for Florida families and small business owners that deserve a level playing field. Lawmakers were elected to serve the hardworking people of the state, not well-connected special interests that seek lucrative deals to pad their bottom line. We have a great opportunity to leave the failed dealings of Enterprise Florida in the past and focus on laying the foundation for long-term success. We applaud the members of this committee who today stood up for fairness, for principle, and for Florida taxpayers.”
These “incentives” are often guised under the term of “economic development” yet nothing could be further from the truth as often these are nothing more than handouts to those who know how to exploit the system. Governor Scott says we need to increase the amount we are spending to attract more jobs to Florida. What he doesn’t tell you is that his state spending proposal continues to expand and if he, and the Florida legislature, would make the state more tax friendly across the board to businesses and residents, there would be no need for his welfare to billionaires and billion-dollar corporations. Scott originally ran for Governor on the premise that the state budget was far too high and he was going to cut back spending; however, he has done the opposite and we will likely end up with the largest Florida government spending in the state’s history by the close of the 2017 Florida legislative session.