HB 9 deals with VISIT FLORIDA, the state's official tourism marketing organization, meaning taxpayer dollars are used to supposedly lure tourist to Florida. This spending of our money is based on the idea that if we don’t do it, the tourist will not come to Florida. That is insane. Private enterprises like Disney World, other theme parks and resorts will spend their own money to bring tourist to Florida, Why, do we have to pay for it?
People around the United States, and around the world know that Florida is a great place to visit. Their smart phones are full of apps to show them the best places in Florida. Visit Florida is antiquated marketing that might have been have been useful in the 1970's.
HB 9 reforms VISIT FLORIDA to require much more transparency and legislative oversight over this quasi-government agency. VISIT FLORIDA would have to post every contract on a state website, have the governor approve all out-of-state and foreign travel, give every contract worth $750,000 or more to the Legislature for consultation, such as the controversial $1 million deal with Pitbull or $2.8 million advertising deal with a racing car team.
VISIT FLORIDA would have to submit its operating budget to the Legislature every year and have the Senate confirm its CEO. Compensation of VISIT FLORIDA employees will be limited, benefits frozen at current levels and bonuses prohibited." Employees and board members will be prohibited from receiving food, beverages, lodging, entertainment or gifts from the agency or from any local tourism or economic development agency.
HB 7005 will eliminate the state’s economic incentive programs, such as Enterprise Florida. Enterprise Florida is the public-private partnership that works under a contract with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to implement so-called economic incentives.
The term “economic incentives” is misleading, economists refer to “economic incentive programs” as “corporate welfare”. Corporate Welfare is the policy of granting special privileges to selected hand-picked companies, which gives them an advantage over their competitors and creates an uneven playing field.
Benefiting from this system, of course, are those businesses with the most lobbyist and campaign contributions, along with the politicians claiming they are "creating jobs" as they dispense their political favors.
What is worse, many of these subsidized businesses never create the jobs they promised and many have gone bankrupt. State economist say 70 percent of Florida’s incentive programs are losing money.
The Florida legislature instead should look to minimize government influence in the marketplace, by reducing regulatory, business and professional fees and permits, as well as lowering taxes for all businesses, not just the well-connected companies with an army of lobbyist.
HB 9 and HB 7005 will have its second reading on the House Floor this Thursday and could soon receive an up or down vote by the full House this week.
Call and e-mail your district Representative and tell them to support HB 9 to rein in the waste of VISIT Florida and HB 7005 to eliminate Enterprise Florida and to stop using taxpayer’s money for failed corporate welfare programs.