Rick Scott accuses House leadership of playing politics on economic development

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Gov. Rick Scott accused House leaders Tuesday of political posturing on Florida’s economic- and tourism-development programs.

“It’s pretty clear. If you don’t care about people’s jobs, you must be caring about something else,” Scott told reporters following a Cabinet meeting.

“What else can it be? How can anybody say, ‘We don’t want to help a poor family get a job?’ How can anybody say, ‘Oh, this investment where we get a significant return, we don’t want to do that?’ ” Scott said.

“The only thing this could be would be politics. You would never think this way in business.”

Legislation introduced in the House last week would dismantle Enterprise Florida, which provides incentives to businesses considering moving to the state, and Visit Florida, which markets tourism and provides education and training to tourism business owners.

The bill is PCB CCS 17-01.

“We’re seeing people who just want to run for higher office,” Scott said. “They’re not concerned about what happens to other people. They just think it’s a nice sound bite. But it doesn’t help anybody in the community. It doesn’t help anybody in our state.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2020. He has denounced Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida for misspending tax money and engaging in crony capitalism.

Last year, the Legislature blocked Scott’s request for $250 million for Enterprise Florida; this year, he has asked lawmakers for $85 million.

Scott conceded problems at both agencies, but pointed to management improvements.

“Is anything in life perfect? Could Enterprise Florida do things better? Sure,” he said.

“There’s more transparency now. There’s new leadership. If there’s something you can do better, you go and improve it. But you don’t just say, ‘Oh, I’m not ever going to do it again,’ ” Scott said.

“If we don’t create a market for the best jobs, we won’t get the best jobs.”

In fact, the governor repeatedly emphasized his jobs-growth agenda.

“This is about jobs. It’s about jobs. It’s about jobs. Do we want more jobs or less jobs?”

“This is so frustrating,” Scott said. “I just don’t understand how anybody can sit there and say, ‘I don’t care about a person getting a job.’ It’s shocking to me that anybody could think that way.”

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.