The Seminole County Commission received their legislative update on Tuesday afternoon and one recent vote by state house lawmakers to eliminate the controversial economic development program, Enterprise Florida, has left the majority of the commission frustrated.
On Friday, the Republican controlled house, including all three representatives from Seminole County by a margin of 87 to 28 voted to abolish Enterprise Florida, which has seen some of it’s most notable victories in this region.
“This county has been the recipient of so many jobs.” said Commissioner Brenda Carey, pointing to companies like Deloitte and Verizon, both with notable economic footprints in Lake Mary “I’m very disappointed in our representatives. It aggravates me when they’re playing politics.”
Governor Rick Scott, who has been the agency’s biggest champion, had held most of his Orlando area job announcements in Seminole County and has called the bill “Job killing legislation.”
Commission Chair John Horan also believed the motive was political adding “No one was complaining when unemployment was at 11%. Now, all of the sudden it’s corporate welfare. It’s a matter of being honest with the people. The reality of the situation is that local government is going to do the smart thing when they have to.”
The battle over the future of Enterprise Florida and it’s tourism counterpart VISIT Florida has been the fiercest battle in the state legislature since the session kicked off last week. Many conservatives, including House Speaker, Richard Corcoran has called the program “Corporate Welfare” and “picking winners and losers.”
Both agencies have seen their share of challenges. Enterprise Florida is currently on it’s second CEO in less than six months and VISIT Florida faced controversy when they didn’t disclose the contract of rapper Pitbull, before the music superstar ultimately released the contract himself, illustrating he had been paid $1 million dollars to promote the state with his “Sexy Beaches” video.
Commissioner Lee Constantine blamed one of the fiscal watchdog groups, Americans for Prosperity, for the push saying “They’ve been around for a while and now they have a voice, the speaker.”
Constantine a former State Senator actually has ties to the group. AFP Florida Director Chris Hudson once worked as his aide and stands behind the decision made by state house lawmakers.
“Corporate welfare at the national, state, and especially the local levels is unacceptable.” he says “It’s not the role of government to pick winners and losers. The principled lawmakers that stood up to the rigged system promoted by Enterprise Florida voted to make taxpayers the winners by taking a stand against wasteful spending and future taxpayer handouts.”