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House Speaker: Rick Scott’s focus on Enterprise Florida is misdirected

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Gov. Rick Scott should spend less time talking about Enterprise Florida, and more seeking reform of the workers compensation system and assignment of benefits abuse, if he really cares about protecting jobs, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said Thursday.

“We’re talking about a tremendous amount of bandwidth going to Enterprise Florida, going to Visit Florida,” Corcoran told reporters during a wide-ranging news conference.

If the House prevails in its bid to kill Enterprise Florida and other economic incentive programs, and clips Visit Florida’s wings, the savings to taxpayers would amount to $100 million, Corcoran said.

“And the governor’s traveling the state, visiting individual members’ districts, and saying, ‘This is terrible for jobs! This is terrible for jobs!’

“I can tell the governor what’s terrible for jobs — what affects every single business across the board, small and large; what affects every single person out there who owns a home, small and large — is assignment of benefits and workers’ comp,” the speaker said.

Corcoran referred to a 14.5 percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums that began to take effect in December. The House Insurance & Banking committee approved a fix on March 14, but the Senate version has not yet come up for a hearing.

That could cost $550 million in increased premiums. “That’s in year one,” Corcoran said.

“And 14.5 is the initial recommendation — you could see higher increases. And they probably won’t be enough. You could see billions of dollars in increases on every single business.”

Similarly, absent AOB reform, homeowners could experience insurance hikes of as much as $4,000 per yea, Corcoran said, amounting to additional billions.

The House committee approved an AOB reform package the same evening as the workers’ comp bill.

“If I was to give encouragement to the governor, I’d say: ‘Go keep traveling. Start talking about workers’ comp and assignment of benefits, which have far more effects than Enterprise/Visit Florida on jobs,” Corcoran said.

“How can you just be silent on what really will hit jobs — really will cost people dramatic increases, homeowners and businesses? And he’s focused on $100 million that has little if not zero impact on jobs,” he said.

“Go over to the Senate and … get those guys on board for jobs,” Corcoran said.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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