BRADENTON, Fla. – The Florida House passed legislation Friday to abolish a number of economic development programs and reform the state's tourism agency.
The GOP-led House voted 87-28 for House Bill 7005, which would kill Enterprise Florida, the public-private agency that has for many years doled out publicly funded business incentives.
They also approved HB 9 by a vote of 80-35, to enact spending and operational controls over Visit Florida, the state's tourism-marketing agency.
The vote came just four days into the 60-day annual session, and sets an early tone for lawmakers.
Similar bills are pending in the Senate.
Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who chairs both agencies and depends on them to fulfill job-creation promises, released a terse statement shortly after Friday's votes.
"Today, politicians in the Florida House passed job-killing legislation," Scott said. "Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism.
"But, I want to be very clear – a vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida," he said.
Scott said that both Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida had already taken major steps "to ensure their operations meet our high expectations" for accountability. He did not provide details.
Scott said he plans to continue a series of meetings around the state in advance of Senate action enlisting support for the agencies from people in business, economic development, tourism and communities.
Enterprise Florida was developed as a public-private agency years ago, with lawmakers expecting contributions from the private sector that did not materialize.
HB 7005 also would eliminate other programs, including the Office of Film & Entertainment, the Capital Investment Tax Credit Program, the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program, and the Professional Sports Franchises, Spring Training Franchises, and Sports Development Programs.
Visit Florida came under fire because of its spending practices, including a $1 million promotional contact with Miami rapper Pitbull that was not disclosed initially.
After the Florida House filed suit last fall, Pitbull released his entire contract on Twitter calling it "FULL DISCLOSURE – FLORIDA."