Scott Makes A Personal Push For His Budget But Incentive Concerns Linger
In a rare move, Florida Gov. Rick Scott came before the House Finance and Tax committee Tuesday to lobby for his budget. Scott’s proposal includes more than a billion dollars in tax cuts.
“We expect whatever we buy, if we buy the newest gadget either the price goes down or quality goes up,” Scott says. “We expect that every day. We should expect that in our government.”
“Our government should figure out how to reduce our cost every year—of something—especially as we get bigger,” Scott says.
Among other proposals, Scott defended his plan to permanently repeal the manufacturing sales tax.
But it’s not all cuts.
Scott has lobbied fiercely to increase funding for the state’s business development agency Enterprise Florida, or EFI. His budget asks for a $250 million appropriation to help the organization attract and retain businesses.
Meanwhile in the Senate Commerce and Tourism committee legislative researchers from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, or OPPAGA, questioned the Enterprise Florida’s international development work.
When Scott pitches Florida at international trade shows, Florida businesses are on hand, too, pitching themselves to foreign markets. Enterprise Florida helps fund these efforts, and it says its work has contributed $2.1 billion to Florida’s economy since 2011.
But OPPAGA researcher Mary Alice Nye says the math is fuzzy.
“When we reviewed EFI’s widely-referenced measures for export sales and foreign direct investment we found that this information is largely unverified and may overstate performance,” Nye says.
Nye points out in terms of exports, only 11 percent of the agency’s figures can be tied to actual sales. The remaining $1.8 billion are listed as anticipated sales.
On a different business incentive front, OPAGGA researcher Alex Regalado reports a failure to launch for tax breaks aimed at Florida’s space industry. Regalado says many businesses just aren’t taking advantage of the program.
“We found that relatively few businesses participated in space and defense incentive programs,” Regalado says. “Three of the businesses accounted for 90 percent of the taxes exempted under the tax exemption program.”
He notes some may be utilizing other incentives like the sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment, and that businesses using the incentives are satisfied. The report suggests participation might increase if lawmakers ease requirements for one of the incentives offering business tax refunds.