Enterprise Florida on chopping block after first day of budget negotiations

by | Apr 25, 2023

  • State lawmakers have moved forward with intentions to dissolve Enterprise Florida. 
  • The business recruitment agency was called into question after House Speaker Paul Renner called for its elimination, stating that it “over-promised and under-delivered.”
  • Senate President Kathleen Passidomo also lent support to the dissolution efforts. 

As curtains rose on the state’s budget negotiations on Monday, lawmakers moved to initiate the dissolution of Enterprise Florida, curbing $12 million in funding while laying the groundwork to transfer some of the agency’s operations to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

The business recruitment agency was thrust to the centerfold of the larger state budget discussions after House Speaker Paul Renner called for its elimination, stating that it “over-promised and under-delivered for years and drains funds from higher priorities.”

The culmination of Renner’s legislative priority materialized in the filing of House Bill 5 (HB 5) — a piece of legislation largely in step with Renner’s objective — which aims to consolidate Enterprise Florida’s functions with those of the Department of Economic Opportunity, optimize the state’s economic development system, and remove certain programs and incentives.

Rep. Tiffany Esposito told the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this month that expunging Enterprise Florida and its associated tax programs would save the state approximately $100 million dollars.

“About half of the programs are either expired or have never been used, or have minimum applications; and when I say minimal, I mean one application,” said Esposito. “This bill is cleaning up a lot of statutes that needed to be cleaned up anyways. This is estimated to save the state about $100 million dollars.”

Late last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted 19-7 to approve HB 5. The legislation also received the backing of major business and political groups within the state, including Americans For Prosperity.

“Enterprise Florida has long failed to live up to its founding mission of encouraging private sector job growth and promoting Florida’s overall economic health,” said AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander. “It’s about time this ineffective, unnecessary organization is eliminated and its funding placed within the better-equipped Department of Economic Opportunity.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo lent support to the shuttering efforts this month, suggesting that aspects of the agency could be folded into the Department of Economic Opportunity, such as trade missions, but that the public-private agency overall “just doesn’t seem to be as effective as we would like.”

The decision to dismantle Enterprise Florida has not gone without criticism. Some individuals have raised concerns regarding the potential transfer of recurring expenses to taxpayers, including Donald Trump. The former President has specifically taken aim at Gov. Ron DeSantis, citing the governor’s frequent travels outside of Florida for fundraising and business trips. Currently, DeSantis is embarking on a trade mission to Japan, South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

“The “Consultants” are sending [DeSantis], and demanding he go immediately, on an emergency Round the World tour of U.S representative population countries, like South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Israel,” said Trump in a Truth Social post. “Perhaps he can, and perhaps he can’t, who really knows, but he’ll have plenty of time to think as he sits alone, on his taxpayer-funded airplane.”

A News Service of Florida report shows that taxpayers footed more than $100,000 for a six-day trip to Israel in 2019 embarked upon by DeSantis and members of the state Cabinet.

“Florida taxpayers, however, were hit with a tab of more than $131,000 to cover lodging, airfare, and other travel costs for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, three of her aides, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ chief of staff, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s general counsel, three staffers with the governor’s office and security provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” reads the article.


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