Scott: Enterprise Florida Is Running Out Of Money; Senate Disagrees, Calls For Changes

Sep 14, 2015

Credit Enterprise Florida

Governor Rick Scott says more money is needed for the state’s business recruitment office. Scott says Enterprise Florida is down to $9 million, and that’s not enough to hold it through the end of the fiscal year.

The Governor says the legislature didn’t give the public-private partnership enough money to keep recruiting new businesses to the state.

“That means if there are projects around the state that we have the opportunity to recruit a company to our state and we need more good jobs all the time, the state won’t have the resources to put up," Scott told reporters Monday.

He made a similar claim last week ahead of a trip to recruit businesses from Kentucky.

But Florida Senate leadership is skeptical. Senator Bill Galvano say the company needs to change the way it accounts for money and Senate President Andy Gardiner argues Enterprise Florida has more than $100 million  in an escrow account. The agency says that money is already committed to companies. Scott wanted $85 million for Enterprise Florida but the legislature allocated half that.

"Since Fiscal Year 2011-2012, a combined total of $263.7 million was appropriated and/or reappropriated for the QAC [quick action closing] program. Of that amount, $141.8 million has been transferred, or is pending transfer, to EFI’s [Enterprise Florida's] escrow account and $112.7 million was left unallocated. As of September 9, 2015, over $118 million is held in EFI’s escrow account," wrote Gardiner in a memo to lawmakers.

"Over the same 4-year period, $220 million (or 55 percent) of a combined total of $398.2 million appropriated and/or reappropriated for all of the toolkit programs was not spent. To put this amount in perspective, $220 million could easily fund at least four 10-day Back-To-School Sales Tax Holidays.

Continuing to use this approach is clearly far from the highest and best use of limited taxpayer resources," Gardiner said.

The Senate is considering changes that would switch Enterprise Florida's funding model to a pay-as-you go system, instead of pooling the money in an account and only paying out when a company meets certain benchmarks.