. – Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro released the following statement following the passage of House Bill 7005 affecting Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida through the House Appropriations Committee –
“Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida are critical functions of our state, boosting our economy and creating thousands of jobs for hard-working Floridians. While we hold much respect for the members on the House Appropriations Committee, we are disappointed in their votes to move forward on House Bill 7005. The bill will now be heard in front of the full House Chamber.
“The bill would eliminate Enterprise Florida, killing many of Florida’s successful incentive programs, which are important in the state’s economic development goals to diversify the economy. Without them, Floridians will be faced with the loss of potential businesses and high-wage jobs, slowing the substantial growth the state has experienced since the end of the Great Recession.
“House Bill 7005 has been amended to no longer kill Visit Florida and incorporates numerous accountability and transparency measures to protect the dollars of Florida taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch has been a long-time supporter of holding government accountable and we applaud the House for these provisions. However, the bill still significantly cripples Visit Florida’s ability to conduct its mission.
“Visit Florida, like Enterprise Florida, is an important ally in boosting our state economy. Though the state has significantly diversified its economic portfolio, tourism still remains one of the top industries. Therefore, it is critical that Visit Florida is properly funded to better compete with other states who are striving to take visitors away from Florida. The bill does not accomplish this goal.”
“With this in mind, I strongly urge the Florida House to have a lively and passionate floor debate on the merits of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida and reconsider their plans to significantly weaken the two agencies’ abilities to move our economy forward.”