Rick Scott’s economic incentive agenda gets a boost from the Legislature

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Gov. Rick Scott could have a sizable increase in the 2014 budget for corporate tax incentives to businesses promising jobs in Florida.

Both chambers of the Legislature unveiled preliminary proposals for the July 1 fiscal year, each roughly doubling the size of incentives available to Enterprise Florida and the Department of Economic Opportunity to dole out to interested companies, reports Aaron Deslatte in the Orlando Sentinel.

At one time, Florida had as much as $300 million to spend in annual tax incentives, but the Great Recession curtailed many of those funds while existing incentives created too few jobs.   

Only two years ago, Scott’s office was at $111 million for incentives. Last year, lawmakers whittled down the number to $45.5 million.

This year, however, the Senate Transportation and Economic Development committees released budget plans Monday that raised incentives to $89 million, just under the $95 million Scott requested.

Tuesday, the House proposed $60 million in incentives, adding another $33 million for local projects, such as a $10 million Miami Skyrise tower and $2 million in Palm Beach County for Florida Scripps.

Visit Florida’s current $63 million annual budget gets another $27.8 million from the House, with the Senate adding $31.5 million. Scott asked for about $40 million.

Using in-depth analysis mandated by the Legislature, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research released in January 3 years’ worth of data on seven key incentive programs.

The agency examined grants, tax credits or exemptions for high-wage jobs in high-tech industries, as well as growth in environmentally polluted or devastated areas.

Of the $298 million in deals made between 2009 and mid-2012, Deslatte notes four of seven programs produced a distinct “return on investment,” providing sufficient justification from a fiscal standpoint to continue funding.

Among the financial duds were high profile programs like the Innovation Incentive fund for supporting the Lake Nona Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.