This year the Florida Legislature passed a bill that would give more rule-making authority to Gov. Rick Scott– including the ability to dole out $100 million to businesses however he sees fit.
Thanks to the Legislature, [Scott] has a little more power.
More power to supervise agency rulemaking. More power to remove members of local jobs agencies. More power to dish out millions of dollars to help businesses relocate to Florida.
Scott asked the Legislature for $230 million in economic incentives. He got about $101 million, most of which he can spend as he sees fit. [State Sen. Nan Rich], the Senate minority leader, questioned why legislators continue to make an exception for Scott’s pet agency even as other departments went through another round of budget cuts.
“I don’t care what anybody says,” Rich said. “They’re giving him more power, and I don’t think it’s called for.”
“Economic incentives” are basically funds given to businesses as incentives for them to move to Florida, or funds given to Florida-based companies to create jobs in the state. Critics argue that there is very little transparency in the tax breaks and subsidies the state gives to businesses, including no studies to ensure that those “incentives” actually achieve what they are meant to.
Last year, the Florida Center for Fiscal Policy and Economic Policy released a report calling upon legislators to evaluate whether or not the many tax breaks and grants afforded to companies by the state of Florida are actually creating jobs. The public policy group argued that the state “provides huge benefits to selected companies each year, many of which receive little or no examination of their value to Florida’s economy.” At least $4 billion in annual breaks have been given to businesses in the state of Florida in the past couple of years, the group reported.
During the past Legislative session, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos committed to including “a formal study reviewing the effectiveness of economic development incentives, tax credits, exemptions, and subsidies,” in the state’s economic incentives bill, which is now on its way to the governor’s desk. The move represented a significant win for progressives in Florida, who have expressed concerns with this very issue for some time.