Gov. Rick Scott on Monday continued his campaign against House Republicans who oppose economic-development spending, telling a business roundtable in Tallahassee that bills approved last week would cause some families to lose their jobs.
Scott also declined to rule out vetoing the budget for the year beginning July 1 if it doesn’t include funding for business incentives.
The roundtable event, at Danfoss Turbocor Compressors Inc., came three days after House members approved legislation abolishing business-recruitment agency Enterprise Florida and overhaul tourism marketer Visit Florida.
As he has done at other stops during a media blitz aimed at saving business incentives, Scott singled out a local lawmaker: Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello.
“Why in the world would Halsey Beshears, or anybody else, vote to eliminate Enterprise Florida and decimate Visit Florida?” Scott told reporters after meeting with business leaders and state economic development officials. “This is about some family getting a job. I’m going to fight for those families all this session.”
The showdown over incentives has escalated into one of the most heated clashes between Scott and legislative Republicans since the governor took office in 2011. Scott used a sizable piece of his “State of the State” address last week to blast House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, and others who oppose the incentives.
A bipartisan group of legislators critical of Enterprise Florida say the spending represents “corporate welfare” giving some businesses special privileges. The Visit Florida reform measure follows attacks on the agency for a controversial $1 million contract with Miami hip-hop artist Pitbull to promote Florida.
“There are better, higher uses for that money, whether it’s public safety, whether it’s quality education, or infrastructure,” Rep. Paul Renner, a Palm Coast Republican who is sponsoring the bills, said after the Enterprise Florida measure was approved Friday.
Scott was unapologetic Monday for savaging Republicans.
“If you’re going to vote to decimate the job market in this state, I’m not going to praise you,” he said.
When asked, Scott also declined to rule out vetoing the entire state budget – an extraordinarily rare move in Florida, given the line-item veto – if it does not include funding for incentives. “I have the opportunity to review every line in the budget and that’s what I’ll do,” he said.