Florida draws C in national survey on job incentive dollarsby John Kennedy | December 14th, 2011
Even as Gov. Rick Scott’s administration acknowledges it needs to improve oversight of job-creation money, a national report Wednesday graded the state’s incentive programs as average in terms of tracking the dollars and creating jobs which bring decent wages.
Scott is seeking $230 million in next year’s budget for incentive dollars for his newly created Department of Economic Opportunity, more than doubling the cash available to lure businesses to relocate or expand in Florida.
But lawmakers have questioned just how well the state can vouch for the $739 million in incentives it has spread across some 1,600 contracts since 1995.
The report by Good Jobs First, Inc., a non-partisan, nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., gave Florida a C grade for its ability to follow the dollars and turn them into jobs.
”With unemployment still so high, taxpayers have a right to expect that economic development investments create significant numbers of quality jobs,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First. “The days of ‘no strings attached’ are largely gone, but the fine print in many states is still full of gaps and loopholes.”
Good Jobs’ review found Nevada, North Carolina and Vermont did best in applying job standards to their major subsidy programs. The District of Columbia, Alaska and Wyoming rated worst.
Oversight and performance of Florida’s big five economic development programs placed the state eighth best on the national survey. Although laws governing four of the five subsidy programs set some kind of wage standard, none require employers to provide health benefits to workers, analysts said.
“This study provides a roadmap for Florida legislators and economic development officials as they attempt to require more accountability from corporations receiving job subsidies,” said Alan Stonecipher, a spokesman for the Florida Cetner for Fiscal and Economic Policy, which co-released the Florida findings.
The report is here: www.goodjobsfirst.org