Scott incentive cash draws rebuke from tea party groupby John Kennedy | April 20th, 2013
House and Senate budget negotiators were slapped Saturday by a leading tea party group for beefing up the pool of money given Gov. Rick Scott for luring companies to Florida.
Lawmakers are working through the weekend on settling differences in $74-billion-plus spending plans.
Late Friday, House and Senate conferees agreed to set aside $79.2 million as economic incentive cash controlled largely by the Republican governor — who is actually seeking $173.7 million for the fund.
The Senate had earlier low-balled the House on the issue — proposing a mere $20 million while the House recommended $73 million in its budget proposal.
But the Senate’s sudden turnaround brought a swift response from Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group founded by the conservative Koch brothers. AFP also warred with Scott last year over his support for legislation advancing alternative energy.
“Hopefully, the Senate will rethink their decision to increase funding for these handouts, a program that amounts to little more than corporate welfare,” said AFP’s Florida director, Slade O’Brien. “Giving out taxpayer funded incentives to companies that are coming to Florida or expanding their existing business is not a proven way to encourage jobs.”
Lawmakers have been citing concerns about such giveways, especially since the recent collapse of the Treasure Coast’s Digital Domain Media Group.
Digital Domain drew $20 million in state incentives — part of $130 million it received in overall government aid. Among the losers was the city of West Palm Beach, which gave the company $2 million to begin a program locally with the Florida State University film school.
The company defaulted on loans and investments last fall, and closed its main operation in Port St. Lucie.