The fiscal conservative activist group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is urging its members to show up in force at a committee hearing set for this Wednesday in Tallahassee. At issue before the House Subcommittee on Careers and Compeition is a proposed committee bill that would eliminate Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida, and the film and sports subsidy programs.
AFP has long been a thorn in the side of lawmakers and elected officials who have embraced economic incentive packages for businesses – derisively called “corporate welfare” by AFP activists and fiscal conservative politicians alike – but this week, they are ramping their game up a notch. by offering free food, lodging, transportation and t-shirts, all paid by AFP. The group is pulling out all the stops in an effort to demonstrate to Republican lawmakers that they mean business.
According to an email obtained by The Capitolist, the activist group is offering free food, lodging, transportation and t-shirts, all paid by AFP. The group is pulling out all the stops in an effort to demonstrate to Republican lawmakers that they mean business.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran is viewed as one of the group’s staunchest allies, and he has continued to rail against taxpayer dollars being used for incentive programs.
But EFI, Visit Florida and representatives for other groups aren’t about to take AFP’s criticisms lying down. Their speakers who will present at the committee will come armed with hard data showing that Florida can’t compete for and land big companies on a national stage without at least some incentive dollars to offer. One argument they might make is that incentive dollars are similar to college scholarships for promising blue-chip athletes. Imagine if Florida State or the University of Florida had to try to recruit marquee players like Jameis Winston or Tim Tebow, but they weren’t allowed to offer scholarships, while other schools, like Alabama and USC routinely did so.
Just as a promising freshman recruit is offered economic incentives (in the form of a scholarship) before he scores a single touchdown on the football field, the same argument can and likely will be made by EFI, Visit Florida, and the Florida Film Commission. If Florida wants to host future bowl games, land major distribution centers by companies like Amazon.com, the state must be prepared to offer economic incentives that make locating in the Sunshine State more attractive than, say, Georgia, North Carolina, or some other state.
AFP will naturally have its own arguments, not the least of which they might borrow from Richard Corcoran himself – after all, it’s not as though people only started visiting Florida after Visit Florida started spending millions in taxpayer dollars to produce rap videos.