Big changes coming to Enterprise Florida, state lawmakers say

State lawmakers aim to reform Enterpirse Florida
Posted at 6:57 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 19:49:14-05
Big changes are coming to the state agency that gives away your tax dollars to lure jobs to Florida.
As the new Legislature takes hold in Tallahassee, lawmakers in both parties are looking to tighten the purse strings of Enterprise Florida.
"Dramatically in Florida you'll find the environment to inspire was inconceivable," is what a glitzy commercial for Enterpirse Florida claims.
The highly produced video is an advertisement for  the economic development organization that uses your tax money to lure companies to Florida, with the expectation that those companies will expand or relocate, creating jobs for Floridians and the taxpayers who are helping to fund their business.
But now the future of Enterprise Forida is up in the air.
A new bill just filed would force  Enterprise Florida to be more accountable. It would call for a 50-50 match of public-private funds and establish an  independent third party to confirm if businesses that receive tax incentives actually create jobs.
The results are mixed.
ABC Action News searched state records going back five years in the Bay area and found at least 13 companies taking your tax dollars failed to deliver on creating local jobs. And as a result, their contract was terminated.
"All these people... not millions but billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain and they are packing up their bags and leaving," said Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is leading the charge against what he calls "corporate welfare."
The new proposed rules would also peel back the curtains on secret contracts like the one the state agreed to with rapper Pitbull, which paid the entertainer $1 million for a bikini video promoting Florida beaches.
Currently, state negotiations with businesses are often  hidden from the public in the name of "trade secrets," which Enterprise Florida leaders say are necessary to protect the competitive edge of the companies they are trying to attract to the state.
Other reforms: Cutting out the public money used by sports franchises to remodel stadiums.
"Those who own the game should not be able to take money from those who don't attend the game.
#corporatewelfare," Corcoran tweeted Thursday,
Gov.   Rick Scott said change is needed, promising to restructure Enterprise Florida in the upcoming legislative session.