Friday, February 17, 2017

Feud between Rick Scott and House leaders over incentives gets uglier this week

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 10:47 AM

Gov. Rick Scott, embroiled in a fight with House leaders over the future of the state's tourism-marketing agency, said Thursday that Florida hit record tourism numbers in 2016.

The surge in visitors came despite reports during the past year of toxic algae blooms in Florida waterways, the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, damage from a pair of hurricanes and a terrorist-related attack at an Orlando nightclub.

Scott went to the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne to announce that the Sunshine State attracted 112.8 million tourists in 2016. He credited the 5.86 percent increase from the prior year to Visit Florida, one of the agencies House Speaker Richard Corcoran has targeted to dismantle.

"I don't understand how anyone can look at Florida's booming tourism industry, and the more than 1.4 million jobs it supports, and vote to kill it," Scott said in a prepared statement. "The legislation the Florida House is pushing puts more than 1.4 million jobs at risk and we cannot let that happen."

Corcoran told The News Service of Florida on Thursday the governor must prove to lawmakers that tourism spending is directly tied to the increase in tourists.

"Show me how Pitbull's video brought more millennials to the state of Florida? You just can't do it," Corcoran said, referring to a controversial $1 million contract Visit Florida inked with Miami hip-hop artist Armando Christian Perez, better known as Pitbull. "We're in la la land."

Corcoran has also questioned the agency's sponsorship deals with the London-based Fulham Football Club and an IMSA racing team.

Scott and Corcoran have been locked in a battle about the future of Visit Florida and the economic-development agency Enterprise Florida. House members, led by Corcoran, have started moving forward with a bill that would abolish the agencies.

On Thursday, the speaker's office sent out a video highlighting failed business incentive packages. The video had been previewed the night before during a gathering of House members at The Edison restaurant in Tallahassee.

Meanwhile, Scott has been traveling the state this week, holding events to drum up support for the agencies and his requests for $85 million in state money for business-recruitment incentives and $76 million for tourism marketing.

Visit Florida received $78 million from lawmakers for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

Scott maintains such money is needed to attract businesses and jobs to Florida and has helped the state's economy grow the past six years.

He has also used the appearances to criticize local state representatives who have voted against maintaining Visit Florida or Enterprise Florida.

The measure (HB 7005) to abolish the public-private Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation