Point of View: Balance health, safety with business concerns before restarting Florida economy

Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce

The Palm Beach Post

Bringing the best thought leaders together to solve problems is not just an idea – it’s the best idea – and the root of the Florida Chamber’s existence.

Like it or not, restarting the world’s 17th largest economy is going to be even more strategic, complicated and lengthy than the ramp down has been.

Each day I hear from job creators that are eager to hang an “open for business” sign, and for certain, restarting Florida’s economy is weighing heavy on many as we all work to strike the right balance between staying safe, while also keeping workers paid, businesses from going under, and eventually, re-imagining an even stronger economy.

While parts of the U.S. have reached their COVID-19 peak, according to the model most have been using, Florida’s peak was recently moved up to April 21, then back to April 27, and has now moved back again to May 6.

The timing and process of reopening Florida will have more to do with the virus being contained and the spread slowing to near zero than any of us wish was the case. As we continue practicing social distancing and working remotely, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and over 150 local chambers of commerce have been virtually meeting for over three weeks already charting a path for restarting Florida’s economy.

We were founded more than 100 years ago due to another health scare (albeit a very different one) – the cattle tick. It matters today for the same reason it did more than 100 years ago.

Bringing the best thought leaders together to solve problems is not just an idea – it’s the best idea – and the root of the Florida Chamber’s existence.

The safety of Floridians continues to be our top priority, and certainly, we must be smart in the way Florida reopens and hangs the welcome sign. We do not want to be like Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore who began reopening their economies only to find a resurgence of cases, a secondary spread and, unfortunately, a redeployment of restrictions on commerce, gatherings, travel and more. I’m convinced Gov. Ron DeSantis and his team understands that reopening Florida’s economy needs to be as surgical as the move to our current situation.

We simply have to get this right. Balancing the right health and safety outcomes with the right “re-start” is vital, and we’re uniting business around the right measures.

Our research, gathered from some of the brightest minds in Florida and globally, shows that returning to work will likely be measured, vary by regions, industry sectors, the type and size of businesses, and more — all while balancing the health and safety of workers. We can all easily come up with wish lists, legislative agendas and our own timelines, but restarting Florida’s economy can’t be a PR effort or some sort of state level show of force. There are economic models that show, the wrong re-start approach, combined with too much relaxing of testing, could prolong our economic recovery into 2023 – yes, 2023.

Restarting Florida’s economy won’t be as simple as flipping on a light switch. It will require methodical planning for potentially new processes, mandates or limitations for which there simply isn’t an example to draw upon. And we must not allow a lack of resources, regulations that are not fit-for-purpose, and/or the fear of litigation to sideline efforts to safely and sustainably return to work and restart our economy.

From day one, we’ve been connected with Gov. DeSantis, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew, and Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to lead Florida’s business-related relief efforts. From helping businesses better understand what an essential worker is, to stimulus relief to help keep workers paid and businesses from going under, to channeling masks, ventilators and PPE from businesses all across Florida to front line healthcare workers, the Florida Chamber has been singularly focused on connecting businesses to resources, healthcare heroes to equipment, and policymakers to data and their constituents’ concerns.

And as we transition to restarting Florida’s economy, we know there are measures Florida will need to take to protect public health while reopening vital economic sectors.

We don’t purport to have all the answers, and that’s why, along with this broad team of some of the brightest minds, input from over 150 local chambers of commerce and Florida job creators, dozens of leading trade associations and others, we’re working around the clock to put Florida on the right path to restarting Florida’s economy.

MARK WILSON, TALLAHASSEE

Editor’s note: Wilson is president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

We’re Not Willing to Tax Florida’s Future Away

Florida is fortunate to be home to 19 Fortune 500 companies – employers that are directly producing thousands of private-sector jobs, playing a strong role in Florida’s vibrant economy, paying and collecting billions in taxes and contributing their time, talents and resources to many of Florida’s philanthropic organizations who then put hundreds of millions of dollars into helping those who can’t help themselves.

Yet once again, these job creators are under attack. They are the “boogie man” for activist journalism which, far too often, seeks to advance socialism over free enterprise – apparently for more clicks, likes and retweets.

Only in America could the distorted tax policy theory espoused by some at the Orlando Sentinel become a headline. And in a news cycle that rarely provides transparency for both sides of an issue, it’s forcing more and more job creators like FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith to take a more challenging approach to respond when the facts don’t fit a newspapers planned narrative.

As the late great Paul Harvey would say, “Now here’s the rest of the story.”

In uniting the business community for good, the Florida Chamber is shining a light on bogus, socialist-style reports that use half-truths and innuendoes in an attempt to somehow tarnish leading job creators (a system that has Florida creating one out of 13 new U.S. jobs).

Thanks to Florida job creators, Florida’s unemployment levels are lower than the national average.

Families and businesses in high tax states like New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, and California are fleeing their states for lower tax climates that allow families to save for a rainy day, businesses to hire more employees or reinvest in their facilities, and to create an overall better quality of life. These high-tax states apparently believe government creates jobs, when we all know that the private sector creates the jobs and the paychecks that are used to buy things that, in turn, create taxes that fund our government.

It’s true that Florida has the fourth best tax climate in the country. That’s because, unlike in high-tax states, Florida’s corporate income tax reporting doesn’t mandate “combined reporting.” While that reporting style is favored by those that want to see Florida fail, it has not been roundly supported by Florida’s own economists. In fact, Florida’s own economic forecasters have said combined reporting won’t increase tax revenue, and in fact, have gone on record to say it could actually decrease revenue collections during the next economic downturn – something Florida’s education system, environment and transportation systems can’t afford.

That’s not an economic forecast we’re willing to stake Florida’s future on.

Growing Florida’s economy from the 17th in the world to the 10th largest on the planet means ensuring global competitiveness, prosperity and high paying jobs, and vibrant and resilient communities. A competitive and equitable tax system that encourages job growth and strengthens our economy will be essential in achieving this goal.

That means the Florida Chamber will once again unite businesses in Florida’s Capitol and fight for further reducing the corporate income tax, phasing out the business rent tax, leveling the online sales tax playing field, increasing the R&D tax credit to spur innovation, reducing the communications services tax and fixing Florida’s lawsuit abuse tax.

With 4.5 million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, we will continue to ensure Florida is a state where jobs provide Floridians an opportunity to prosper. And we will fight for free enterprise to lead the way.

For the last decade, lawmakers have been returning hard earned tax dollars back to Floridians – through targeted tax savings like back-to-school sales tax holidays and reductions in the corporate income tax. Yet, Florida’s tax receipts continue to grow.

As Ronald Reagan used to say, if you want less of something, tax it. With all due respect to the Orlando Sentinel, we’re not willing to tax Florida’s future away.

Two Ways You Can Help:

  1. Sign the Petition to create a competitive and equitable tax system.
  2. Join us for the Florida Chamber’s premier legislative event, our 2020 Legislative Fly-In, and connect with legislators, state leaders and Florida’s top business leaders who want free enterprise to succeed.

November 20, 2019

Practicing Medicine in Florida Hurting Hour Pocketbook?

Physicians are Paying More to Provide Healthcare Services

84 percent more.

That’s what physician’s practicing medicine in Florida are paying for medical malpractice coverage compared to other state premiums. And the reason is because of Florida’s abysmal lawsuit abuse climate.

In past years, Florida’s former activist Supreme Court dismantled important legal reform efforts, which ultimately drove up the cost of medical malpractice claims. In fact, the cost of insurance has forced some providers to purchase less insurance, resulting in lower insurance limits, big verdicts, and companies forced to settle to avoid a bad faith claim – further driving up the cost of medical malpractice insurance.

It’s not only costing healthcare providers, it’s costing Florida families too. In fact, studies show that every Florida household’s share of the lawsuit system is $4,442. That’s $1,100 a year more than the national average.

And it’s among the reasons that Florida’s abysmal lawsuit climate was just ranked among the five worst states in the country – 46 out of 50 according to the latest national survey.

The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey: Ranking the States was conducted by the renowned polling firm The Harris Poll on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, and it questioned senior business executives about the fairness and reasonableness of state court systems.

Miami-Dade County, a trial lawyer haven, has the worst litigation environment in the entire country, according to 13 percent of those surveyed. Even more concerning is that 89 percent of executives surveyed said a state’s lawsuit climate is becoming a more significant factor when deciding where to locate or grow additional jobs.

Said differently, Florida’s legal climate could cost Florida new jobs.Thankfully, Florida leaders are turning the page to ensure sunnier days are ahead.

Sunnier Days Are Ahead for Florida’s Lawsuit Climate

Change is already happening to move Florida’s lawsuit abuse climate in the right direction. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ three recent appointments to the Florida Supreme Court have transformed the high court, and an empowered state legislature is more willing to take on billboard trial lawyers.


In May, the Supreme Court rightly adopted a rule called the Daubert standard to keep junk science out of the courtroom. The rule was already in place in 40 other states and the federal courts, giving a huge win to free enterprise that had faced an onslaught of litigation based on faulty science.

Additionally, the legislature also indicated they are ready to turn things around now that they have willing partners in both the executive and judicial branches. For the past six years, homeowners have been dealing with increasing property insurance rates partly due to trial lawyers filing get-rich-quick lawsuits. This year, the Florida legislature finally passed a bipartisan consumer protection measure to end the abusive assignment of benefits (AOB) practice, which Gov. DeSantis signed into law. The Legislature also tackled the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine,” a Florida-only court-created doctrine that allowed billboard trial lawyers to go after deeper pockets.

Keeping the momentum going is essential to tackle issues like bad faith, AOB auto glass and “truth in damages.”

Florida Chamber is Uniting the Businesses Community

The Florida Chamber is uniting the business community behind the common goal of transforming our legal climate from the bottom five to tops in the nation. We’re taking on decades of lawsuit abuse and declaring war on Florida’s poor lawsuit climate.

Florida’s bottom five legal climate reflects its past, not its future, and it’s why we’ve joined with Gov. DeSantis and the Florida legislature to put consumers over trial lawyers.

“If we make the (legal climate) so it’s based on the clients rather than the attorneys, I think that would be a better climate.”

Governor Ron DeSantis

Help Fix Florida’s Broken Legal System

As Florida competes to be a top 10 global economy by 2030, improving its legal climate is essential. The Florida Chamber of Commerce is leading the charge, and will continue efforts to reduce out-of-control litigation while protecting consumers and job creators alike.

Sign the Petition to Fix Florida’s Broken Legal System
-Help Develop the Florida Business Agenda by Taking the Florida’s Chamber’s Survey.
-ICYMI: Arbitration Under Attack in Washington While Florida Politicians Work for Real Legal Reforms, State Chamber Says

September 30, 2019

Florida is Special. Let’s Keep it That Way

One thing most Floridians can agree on is that Florida is special. We enjoy beautiful weather, one of the nation’s best education systems, incredible beaches, a military infrastructure vital to our way of life, a $1 trillion and growing annual economy and a shared spirit of optimism about our future.

However, it is going to take a strong collective effort on all our parts to truly secure Florida’s future.

That’s because in 2022, the current moratorium on drilling for oil virtually anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico expires.

If Congress fails to generate bipartisan support, and the current moratorium expires, oil platforms could be sitting just nine miles off Florida’s coastline, where Florida waters end and federal waters begin.

Perhaps that fact alone got your attention. I hope so.

But there’s more to the story.

There will be no protections in place unless, before 2022, a majority of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a supermajority of 60 bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate reach agreement on some form of extension that the President would agree to sign into law.

Given the partisanship and political stalemate right now in our nation’s capital, this is no small order.

President Donald Trump has called for the United States to achieve not just energy independence, but energy dominance. This is certainly a worthy goal, to ensure we are not constantly held hostage for our energy needs by regimes that rarely have our interests at heart, like Venezuela and Iran.

A major building block of the Trump Administration’s energy dominance goal is the upcoming Department of Interior five-year plan.

As Floridians, we would be wise to assume that opening up new energy exploration areas in the Gulf of Mexico could be part of the federal plan.

Equally, we must understand that the combination of this forthcoming plan and the impending end to the drilling moratorium requires us to act to set the terms which will protect Florida and its unparalleled natural beauty.

We don’t doubt that somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, far from our shores, there are energy resources that can be safely extracted and contribute to the economy and energy security of the U.S. There are already 2,557 active leases and 3,200 active oil drilling platforms in the Gulf now, distant from our beaches and ocean views.

To provide certainty for Florida, leaders in Congress must begin meaningful negotiations to address this challenge. We understand that this will be a difficult process and that some compromises will be necessary. However, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is prepared to support a negotiated plan so long as it meets the following requirements:

  1. Protects Florida’s beautiful beaches and natural habitats, which are the core of our quality of life and a major reason why 124.6 million people visited Florida last year – and an additional 50 million will visit us annually.
  2. Does no harm to our world-class, tourism-based economy, which supports 1.4 million jobs and brings more than $90 billion to our state each year.
  3. Exists in harmony with the current and future military operations – including Space Force – that take place in the Gulf of Mexico. Those missions are vital to our national security, and the military and defense sectors contribute $84.9 billion annually to our economy.

These are the principles we will advocate be addressed in any negotiations in Congress, and they should inform any deal that sets forth what will happen after 2022. We also will ensure that any final deal guarantees that if exploration does happen in the Gulf, it will only happen at a significant enough distance away to protect what makes Florida special.

We must not lose sight of the reality that if Congress fails to act it means the current moratorium expires in barely three years, and we could be seeing oil rigs from Naples, Clearwater, Destin or any of our beautiful beaches.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is and will always be engaged in protecting Florida’s interests and securing its future, so we will vigorously seek support for a compromise that meets our three requirements.

Florida is special and we must unite as Floridians to keep it that way. If we all work together, we can secure a deal that meets these three non-negotiable principles and protects the natural beauty we all love.

Mark Wilson is President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at mwilson@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber Urges Vote on U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

On July 22, the Florida Chamber submitted a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative and the Florida congressional delegation on NAFTA negotiations to reiterates our strong support for ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and urges Congress to move forward with a vote adopting the USMCA as soon as possible.

The letter is in keeping with our long-standing policy of supporting free trade, expanding international trade and investment opportunities for Florida business and communities, fair and equitable market access for Florida-origin exports abroad, and elimination of barriers that are harmful to Florida’s competitiveness as a global hub for trade.   Our recommendations address the need to modernize the agreement but also raise unfair trading practices that have negatively impacted the Florida agriculture community.

The fourth round of NAFTA modernization talks begin on October 11th in Washington, D.C.

There are seven scheduled rounds of negotiation and the timeline for conclusion is increasingly tight as tough issues such as the Trump administration proposal to “reduce the trade deficit with the NAFTA countries”, changes to rules of origin as well as the fate of the transnational court for investment disputes are still on the table and need to be resolved.

The Florida Chamber is Preparing for 3 Million More Drivers and 4.5 Million More Residents By 2030 & 50 Million More Visitors Each Year

Uniting Florida’s Business Community for the Long-Term is Essential

Numbers can often tell a story. In this case, the numbers are 3 million, 4.5 million and 50 million.

Florida Chamber Foundation research shows there will be 3 million more drivers on Florida’s roadways by 2030, and that 4.5 million more residents will call Florida home by that same time period. On top of that, 50 million more visitors will travel to Florida each year.

As our Autonomous Florida program has shown, many drivers will take to the roadways via autonomous technology. This smart technology is among the reasons our Autonomous Florida program has worked to make Florida the most autonomous friendly state in the country.

Other drivers will engage shared vehicle opportunities, which is why the Florida Chamber led efforts to advance the most pro-shared vehicle legislation in the country. Still others will drive eco-friendly electric vehicles, and it’s why we were proud to stand beside Governor Ron DeSantis as he took bold action in supporting electric vehicle charging stations.

But, each of these important conversations focus on what is on top of the road, and it’s why the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition led the charge during the 2019 Legislative Session to encourage lawmakers to pass, and Governor DeSantis to sign into law, a bipartisan bill that prepares for the millions of more drivers, residents and visitors making their way to the Sunshine State.

Thankfully, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature – through Senate President Bill Galvano’s leadership – recognized that we need to plan smart and work fast to keep up with Florida’s growth or risk becoming like California.

Since the passage of what I believe is one of the most important infrastructure bills Florida has passed since the building of the Florida Turnpike, the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition has been focusing on the next equally important part of this effort – what the roads should look like. The Multi-Use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance, known today as M-CORES are three corridors that will help connect important Florida regions, empower rural communities and relieve congestion while also protecting our important natural environment.

  1. Suncoast Connector – Will extend from Jefferson County to Citrus County and provide relief for Interstates 10 and 75, as well as new connections for five rural counties.
  2. Northern Turnpike Connector – Will extend along the same axis and provide similar relief. As anyone who has travelled to Tallahassee knows, there isn’t an easy way to travel northwest from the Florida peninsula, and these roads are especially helpful during statewide hurricane evacuations.
  3. Southwest-Central Florida Connector – Will safely, efficiently and environmentally soundly connect two of the fastest growing regions in Florida.

I understand there are some that will always oppose smart growth and opportunities, believing that a thriving economy cannot coexist with responsible environmentalism or that our roadways are already adequate for the future. That’s why, when one no-growth organization called these “roads to nowhere,” and said, “This legislation could deal a mortal blow to growth management in Florida,” I wasn’t surprised.

But again, the numbers often tell a story. The U.S. Census Bureau says that Lee and Collier Counties in Southwest Florida grew by 21.9 percent and 17.7 percent respectively in the last eight years. In Central Florida, Sumter, Osceola, Orange and Lake grew by 37.5 percent, 36.8 percent, 20.4 percent and 20 percent respectively over the same time period.

What these numbers tell us is that Florida’s urban areas are expanding, and our connections among them should be as strong as possible. Moving goods, residents, and visitors is a paramount concern for Florida’s economy and that concern is felt by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.

I encourage you to join us as we participate in the M-CORES planning process to help ensure Florida moves forward with bold plan on how to improve our transportation infrastructure. The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition is fully engaged to help ensure these corridors move forward with what Washington, D.C. hasn’t been able to do.

The Florida of 2030 will be better connected, more prosperous, and more unified when M-CORES opens their gates to the future.


Want to Help Shape Florida’s Future Roadways?

Join the Infrastructure Coalition
Learn more about how you can engage with the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition as it participates in the M-CORES planning process. Contact Christopher Emmanuel at cemmanuel@flchamber.com.

2019 Growth and Infrastructure Summit

December 5, 2019
The Diplomat Beach Resort
3555 S. Ocean Drive
Hollywood, FL
Click here to be the first to know when registration opens.

Voice of Reason: July 30, 2019

Toll roads bill deserves DeSantis’s signature

Ocala Star Banner, May 12, 2019   

In this divisive political environment, improving infrastructure is about the only government action that people can agree on.

Fortunately, the Florida Legislature is doing what Washington, D.C., hasn’t done yet — move forward with bold plans on how to improve our transportation infrastructure. We ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to support this effort, and hope that those in our nation’s capital will follow Florida’s example. But to understand why Florida needs this legislation, it’s important to understand the problem Floridians need solved.

Florida is growing fast. According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research, Florida can expect another 4.5 million new residents by 2030, in addition to the hundreds of millions of visitors over the same time frame. In many respects, this is welcomed news. Our economy is stronger, our public budgets are healthier, and Florida is now home to fresh perspectives that will continue to make Florida more competitive in the decades to come. But there are challenges that come with 900 new Floridians moving here each day. One of those challenges is maintaining the safety and efficiency of our transportation system.

It would be hard for me to overstate how important infrastructure is for Florida’s economy. We move over 100 million visitors a year to our world-class springs, theme parks and city centers, and then back to other states and countries. We grow hundreds of commodity crops on millions of acres of land that then use our transportation system to go from the farm to our tables. Perhaps most importantly, we have great neighborhoods and world-class schools, from which our workforce commutes to growing city centers.

Our transportation network is the vascular system for Florida’s economy, and by most measures, is well-maintained and adequate for today. But according to that same Florida Chamber Foundation research, Florida can expect another 3 million new drivers by 2030.

Think about that for a second. That means that Florida’s roadways will have millions of more cars in about a decade. Though a decade may seem far off, in infrastructure terms, that is right around the corner. Simply put, we need to plan smart and work fast to keep up with Florida’s growth or risk becoming like California.

Thankfully, the Florida Legislature recognized this challenge and, during the recently completed session, worked on the next generation of transportation systems in Florida. Senate Bill 7068 was passed with bipartisan support, and included many recommendations from the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition. If signed into law, several important steps will happen.

First, new transportation connections will be researched and, if appropriate, funded to ease congestion and create more efficient and safe hurricane evacuation routes. Second, connections to rural and suburban communities will be better linked to the urban economic drivers of the state, reducing commute times and increasing opportunity. Finally, our planning processes will take into consideration new technologies like connected and autonomous vehicles, which are already on some Florida roadways.

All of these things will happen alongside important environmental analyses and many, many stakeholder group meetings. Bold steps can happen deliberately, and Senate Bill 7068 has created an open and transparent process that we should be proud of. Perhaps that’s one reason this measure passed the Florida Senate 37-1.

I understand there are some that will always oppose smart growth and opportunities, believing that a thriving economy cannot coexist with responsible environmentalism or that our roadways are already adequate for the future. There are also some that believe nothing can be bipartisan anymore. The Florida Chamber disagrees. Moving goods, residents and visitors is a paramount concern for Florida’s economy and that concern is felt by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike.

The Florida Chamber believes Senate Bill 7068 is a step in the right direction, and hopefully the first of many. With the right people, the right process, and the right funding, we can prepare for our new neighbors, and welcome them to the best state in the union. It will take hard work, but every endeavor worth doing does.

— Mark Wilson is president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be contacted at mwilson@flchamber.com.

Bipartisan Supported Infrastructure Bill Deserves Gov. DeSantis’s Signature

In this divisive political environment, improving infrastructure is about the only government action that people can agree on. Fortunately, the Florida Legislature is doing what Washington, D.C., hasn’t done yet – move forward with bold plans on how to improve our transportation infrastructure. We ask Governor Ron DeSantis to support this effort, and hope that those in our nation’s capital will follow Florida’s example. But to understand why Florida needs this legislation, it’s important to understand the problem Floridians need solved.

Florida Is Growing Fast

According to the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research, Florida can expect another 4.5 million new residents by 2030, in addition to the hundreds of millions of visitors over the same timeframe. In many respects, this is welcomed news. Our economy is stronger, our public budgets are healthier, and Florida is now home to fresh perspectives that will continue to make Florida more competitive in the decades to come. But there are challenges that come with 900 new Floridians moving here each day. One of those challenges is maintaining the safety and efficiency of our transportation system.

It would be hard for me to overstate how important infrastructure is for Florida’s economy. We move over a hundred million visitors a year to our world-class springs, theme parks, and city centers, and then back to other states and countries. We grow hundreds of commodity crops on millions of acres of land that then use our transportation system to go from the farm to our tables. Perhaps most importantly, we have great neighborhoods and world class schools, from which our workforce commutes to growing city centers.

Florida Can Expect Another Three Million New Drivers by 2030

Our transportation network is the vascular system for Florida’s economy, and by most measures, is well- maintained and adequate for today. But according to that same Florida Chamber Foundation research, Florida can expect another three million new drivers by 2030. Think about that for a second – that means that Florida’s roadways will have millions of more cars in about a decade. Though a decade may seem far off, in infrastructure terms, that is right around the corner. Simply put, we need to plan smart and work fast to keep up with Florida’s growth or risk becoming like California.

Florida Legislature Passed Senate Bill 7068 With Bipartisan Support

Thankfully, the Florida Legislature recognized this challenge and during the recently completed session, worked on the next generation of transportation systems in Florida. A top priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, Senate Bill 7068 was passed with bipartisan support, and included many recommendations from the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition. If signed into law, several important steps will happen.

First, new transportation connections will be researched and, if appropriate, funded to ease congestion and create more efficient and safe hurricane evacuation routes. Second, connections to rural and suburban communities will be better linked to the urban economic drivers of the state, reducing commute times and increasing opportunity. Finally, our planning processes will take into consideration new technologies like connected and autonomous vehicles, which are already on some Florida roadways.

All of these things will happen alongside important environmental analyses and many, many stakeholder group meetings. Bold steps can happen deliberately, and Senate Bill 7068 has created an open and transparent process that we should be proud of. Perhaps that’s one reason this measure passed the Florida Senate 37-1.

I understand there are some that will always oppose smart growth and opportunities, believing that a thriving economy cannot coexist with responsible environmentalism or that our roadways are already adequate for the future. There are also some that believe nothing can be bipartisan anymore. The Florida Chamber disagrees. Moving goods, residents, and visitors is a paramount concern for Florida’s economy and that concern is felt by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike.

The Florida Chamber believes Senate Bill 7068 is a step in the right direction, and hopefully the first of many. With the right people, the right process, and the right funding, we can prepare for our new neighbors, and welcome them to the best state in the union. It will take hard work, but every endeavor worth doing does.
Lend Your Expertise to Help Secure the Future of Infrastructure and Transportation

Join a Coalition
Autonomous Florida and the Infrastructure Coalition –
both Florida Chamber-led coalitions are advancing policy and preparing for the 26 million people that will call Florida home by 2030.


Florida Growth & Infrastructure Summit
Attend the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Growth & Infrastructure Summit to take a deep dive into the Infrastructure & Growth Leadership recommendations found in Florida 2030.

Let 2019 be the Year the Legislature Puts Consumers Ahead of Trial Lawyer Scams

Right now, your state legislators in Tallahassee have an opportunity to lower the cost of living for Floridians. That’s good news for everyone, but it’s particularly good news for those living in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties that are artificially paying higher home and auto insurance rates than they should.

The reason rates are unusually high in the tri-county region is because Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are at the epicenter of a home and auto repair abuse scheme that’s sending rates skyrocketing. It’s known as “assignment of benefits,” or AOB, and last year there were more than 135,000 AOB-related lawsuits in Florida – up from just 1,300 in 2000. The numbers are real and alarming.

AOB abuse rewards a few at the expense of many. It’s become a cottage industry for trial lawyers and shady contractors and vendors who roam neighborhoods looking for their next victims.

 

Here’s How It Works

A homeowner wakes up to a water leak in their kitchen and calls a plumber. The plumber encourages the homeowner to hire a vendor for clean-up and damage mitigation. Often secretly, the vendor pays the plumber a “referral fee.”

The vendor then asks the homeowner to sign some forms, saying that they’ll take care of everything including dealing with the insurance company. What the homeowner doesn’t know is their signature transferred all of the rights to their insurance policy over to the vendor who doesn’t have their best interest in mind.

Far too many homeowners are left with shoddy repairs or no repairs made at all, and then the vendor submits inflated repair bills to the insurance company – setting it up to deny the claim because of the overpriced bill. When the claim is denied, the vendor teams up with a trial lawyer to sue the insurance company in the name of the policyholder – without you ever knowing!

 

It Gets Worse

Florida law allows for one-way attorney fees, meaning the vendor’s lawyer gets paid if the insurer settles the lawsuit to avoid a costly legal battle or loses by as little as $1 in court. Bottom line: Vendors are incentivized to sue because they don’t have much to lose.

The AOB scheme didn’t exist until several years ago when a few creative trial lawyers discovered a loophole and started teaching vendors how to use AOBs to pad their profits. From 2008 to 2018, AOB lawsuits increased by over 900 percent, while total lawsuits in that same period increased just over 400 percent. Five firms filed more than 20 percent of all property AOB lawsuits, and even worse, nine firms filed nearly 85 percent of all auto glass AOB cases.

According to the Florida Justice Reform Institute, AOB lawsuits are growing much faster than the population, going from little more than a few hundredths of a point as a fraction of Florida’s population to nearly a full three-quarters of a percent now.

Eleanor Posner of Delray Beach can attest to how bad the problem is. She became a victim of AOB abuse following a water leak in her laundry room. A vendor charged her insurance company $12,000 for the water removal and drying, then filed a lawsuit when the insurer disputed the inflated amount. Because she signed an AOB, she was powerless to do anything about it and lived in fear of the vendor coming after her for the balance or placing a lien on her home.

 

Helping to Stop AOB Abuse

The Consumer Protection Coalition, spearheaded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is leading the effort to help stop these abusive practices. AOB reform is vital to lowering the cost of living on families – Floridians that fill the jobs that keep our state’s economy growing.

We’ve joined in supporting AOB reform legislation in the Florida House and Senate – reform that the Wall Street Journal has for two years said is long overdue. Governor Ron DeSantis said recently he hopes lawmakers pass legislation to reform AOB, which has “degenerated into a racket.” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier and Citizens Property Insurance Corp. President and CEO Barry Gilway also have warned that something must be done to stop the abuse.

 

Floridians Supporting a Legislative Fix March to Capitol

Shoring up that support are the voices of more than 10,000 Floridians who have signed petitions calling on lawmakers to close the loophole that lines the pockets of a few trial lawyers while it harms everyday Floridians.

With hurricane season only a few months away, Floridians simply can’t wait any longer.

Join Us in Calling on Lawmakers to Make 2019 the Year AOB Reform Finally Passes

  1. Contact your Representative and Senators – encourage them to pass AOB reform (SB 122 & HB 7065).
  2. Sign the petition for AOB reform.
  3. Be the first to know when registration opens for the Florida Chamber’s annual Insurance Summit taking place November 2019.

 

PS: Earlier this morning, the Florida House took an additional step toward AOB reform when it passed HB 7065 out of the House Judiciary Committee. It is expected to be heard by the full House soon.

 

 

March 28, 2019

Preparing Florida’s Infrastructure for Smart Growth and Development

Think about it. Florida is already the third largest state in America and we’re growing by over 1,000 new residents every day. We have 21 million residents and we’ll grow by five million more by 2030. By then, we’ll have three million more drivers on our roads, 50 million more visitors and we’ll need 20 percent more water. The good news is that Florida’s business leaders have a plan and it’s getting traction. This is good for Florida, good for job creation and it’s a great way to Secure Florida’s Future.

While we’re growing, Florida is also becoming more diverse. Aging Baby Boomers will continue to swell Florida’s elder population and at the same time, the Millennial and GenX generations are growing as a share of Florida’s total population. As Florida’s population changes, it is important that our infrastructure systems respond to their changing needs. Creating long-term investments in Florida’s transportation, energy, water, telecommunications and agriculture infrastructure is essential. Our infrastructure needs to support growing demand as well as a wide range of options – from sustainable water solutions to autonomous transportation systems.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research outlines where Florida needs to be by 2030 to remain globally competitive. To secure Florida’s future, we must consider the water and energy needs for nearly five million more residents, be ready for the hard and soft infrastructure needs like broader telecommunications, improved roadways and railways, air, space and sea ports, ensure Floridians can connect to job opportunities, education, healthcare options, each other and the world, as well as support continued economic growth while preserving Florida’s essential environment and community assets.

 

How Do We Make Sure Florida Is Prepared for Smarter Growth?

The Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition, chaired by former Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad, is focused on creating long-term investments in Florida’s energy, water, transportation, telecommunications, and agriculture infrastructure. With Washington, D.C.’s likely focus on infrastructure, the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition aims to maximize Florida’s economic growth opportunities. And, here at the state level, double down on efforts to prepare for Florida’s growing population through infrastructure investments. As part of the Florida Chamber’s continuing efforts, we are working closely with state leaders like Senate President Bill Galvano to enact smarter growth policies that meet Florida’s long-term needs and will, this week, present recommendations the Florida Chamber’s Infrastructure Coalition has prepared for Florida’s elected officials to consider.

The Florida Chamber understands the importance innovation and technology play in Florida’s future- specifically as they relate to Florida’s infrastructure future. Florida 2030 research estimates that by 2030, more than 25 percent of all miles driven (including freight) could be by autonomous vehicles. With guidance and leadership from state leaders like Senator Jeff Brandes, Syd Kitson of Babcock Ranch and Grayson Brulte of Brulte & Company, the Florida Chamber created Autonomous Florida, a statewide initiative that works to ensure Florida continues leading the way in autonomous transportation. Our vision? To make Florida the autonomous capital of “all things autonomous” in North America.

I believe Florida will continue to grow and we can remain competitive if we plan better for the next five million residents than we did for the last five million.

 

This week, leaders from around Florida and the nation will gather at American’s first solar powered town, Babcock Ranch for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2018 Growth & Infrastructure Summit, to discuss the future of Florida’s transportation and infrastructure systems, as well as outline the strategies needed to grow smarter. Governor-elect DeSantis, Senate President Galvano and House Speaker Oliva have all signaled an interest in keeping innovation and infrastructure at the core of Florida’s economic development future. This is great news as we fight to Secure Florida’s Future.

December 10, 2018

Florida’s New $1 Trillion Economy Creates Opportunities

July 30, 2018

Opportunities That Can Also Overcome Challenges

I’ll never forget where I was on September 29, 2007.

It was a Saturday, and I was in the Atlanta airport, walking to my next connection to catch a flight to D.C. for a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As I was keeping pace with others focused on catching their next flight, I happened to look over and saw a Wall Street Journal newspaper box and was immediately frozen in time.

The front-page headline said, “Is Florida Over?” Well, as the CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, you can probably imagine that it was not the type of headline you’d want to see in one of the nation’s most widely read newspapers.

A few years later, Florida made an incredible economic turnaround, and soon, even the WSJ would notice and write part two of that story – Has Florida found the secret to saving the economy?

Florida has come a long way in the last 10 years. In fact, in the past five years, Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 27.2 percent, a rate that puts Florida’s GDP growth among the top five states in the country. And during the same time, Florida has produced more than 1 out of 11 jobs in the U.S.

 

As Will Weatherford, Managing Partner of Weatherford Capitol, former Speaker of the Florida House, and Florida Chamber Board member, recently wrote in Florida Politics:

“You would be hard pressed to find another economy with such robust growth. Florida has seen year-over-year GDP growth, jobs continue to be created and our unemployment rate continues to drop and has remained below the national average for the past several years.”

The good news is that Florida continues to break economic records. Earlier this month, Florida’s GDP topped $1 trillion.  Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, just this past January, predicted that Florida would reach this new milestone during 2018. And just as Dr. Parrish predicted, Florida officially hit the new $1 trillion GDP in the last few weeks. To put this into perspective, if Florida was an independent country, our $1 trillion economy now ranks us as the 17th largest economy in the world – ahead of Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Argentina. Now, as Dr. Parrish explains, Florida is adding $2.74 billion each day to the state’s GDP.

“Becoming a $1 trillion economy means Florida is continuing to grow and create jobs, keeping unemployment lower than the national average, and creating economic opportunity,” Dr. Parrish said recently.

Florida’s GDP Milestone Garnered the Attention of National and International Headlines

  • Palm Beach PostU.S. News
  • Orlando Sentinel
  • Tampa Bay Times
  • The Capitolist
  • Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • MyFox Memphis
  • ForeignAffairsNZL
  • News4Jax
  • KISS 104.1
  • Dayton Daily News
  • Statesman
  • SpringfieldNews-Sun
  • WFTV9 ABC
  • Sunshine State News.

Of course, achieving a $1 trillion GDP is due in large part to Governor Scott, the Florida Cabinet and Florida Legislature. Consider that, until just a few years ago, Florida punished manufacturing investments twice (once at the state level, once at the local level). At the urging of the Florida Chamber, the legislature and Governor Scott removed the Machinery & Equipment (M&E) sales tax. Understanding that manufacturing jobs have the highest value added, removing this tax is making great strides and helping Florida climb in GDP rankings.

 

“This is an historic moment for Florida reaching a record $1 trillion in GDP. By working every day to create private-sector jobs, we’ve been able to increase Florida’s GDP by more than $270 billion – 37 percent – since 2010. When I came into office I made it very clear that we would get our economy back on track. Within seven and a half years, private-sector businesses have created more than 1.5 million jobs and Florida’s unemployment is at a low 3.8 percent. Florida’s growing economy is producing real results for families across our state and we now have the 17th largest economy in the world,” said Governor Rick Scott.

 

 

“Getting Florida’s economy out of the ditch and back on track has long been one of our state’s top priorities, and today’s announcement that our economy surpassed $1 trillion is incredible news for all Floridians. This milestone is further evidence that the pro-business policies and priorities championed by Governor Scott, the Cabinet and the legislature are working. Florida’s economy is on a roll, but complacency is not a strategy and we must continue to do all that we can to make the Florida’s economy as strong and resilient as possible,” said Adam Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture.

 

 

“Florida’s strong economy is a testament to the work done over the past seven years to create an environment that keeps taxes low, reduces our debt, and makes Florida an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family. When we remove unnecessary burdens and overregulation, businesses can grow and create new jobs, while attracting new talent and companies to our state. It’s important that we continue this growth trend, and the policies that have helped us achieve this feat, to ensure Florida remains a top global economy,” said Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer.

 

 

According to TheFloridaScorecard.org, Florida has created 170,500 jobs over the past year, and has steadily kept unemployment rates below the national average. At the same time, achievement gaps are closing in Florida’s Pre-K-12 system, Florida continues to break visitation records, and our state is continuing to diversify its economy.

And while this growth is good news for Florida, challenges and opportunities remain. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research initiative (being released this year) shows the gaps Florida must close in order to continue to be globally competitive and grow smarter by 2030 and beyond. Consider that while achievement gaps are closing, 43 percent of 3rd graders aren’t reading at or above grade level. And while 1 in 11 jobs in the nation in the last five years were created in Florida, our state’s 14.8 percent poverty rate includes 21.3 percent of children under age 18. While Florida is better suited than most states in these areas, the Florida Chamber will continue to lead reforms that create economic opportunity.

As former Speaker Weatherford has said, “A $1 trillion economy is proof that when we stay focused on Florida’s long-term future and remain stalwart in our commitment to quality education, free enterprise and an unmatched quality of life, it suggests that we can continue to be one of the most exciting economic stories in the world.”

While we can certainly pay tribute to Florida’s new $1 trillion GDP success, we must also stay focused. The challenges that remain should be viewed as opportunities to further secure Florida’s future. Your dedication toward the common goal of making Florida more competitive, will help ensure that future Wall Street Journal headlines focus on economic prosperity for all.

Join Us

Register today for Florida’s premier forum focused on growing Florida to its full potential – the 2018 Florida Chamber Foundation Future of Florida Forum.

Talent is Florida’s Best Economic Currency

Each month, I have the honor of being able to travel across Florida and meet with business leaders who are working hard to create jobs and economic opportunity for Floridians. Across the board, businesses tell me that the biggest issue keeping them up at night is having a talented workforce that will allow them to continue to create jobs and grow in the future. If we look at the jobs in Florida today there are 242,500 open jobs. Said differently, there are 242,500 jobs today looking for people. On the other side we have 391,000 people looking to fill those vacant jobs.

 

Earlier this month, the Florida Chamber Foundation held their annual Learners to Earners Workforce Summit, where they took a deep dive into how Florida can prepare for the future of work. And these conversations, which centered around building a workforce, are far reaching in scope — we can’t talk about a talented workforce without talking about prosperity, we can’t talk about investments in early learning without talking about Florida’s business climate and, perhaps most importantly, we can’t have any discussions on the challenges and opportunities Florida’s cradle to career continuum faces unless we have them together and work toward one goal.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam at the Learners to Earners Workforce Summit

 

“What are the things we have to do to diversify our economy and truly become the launch pad for the American dream? First, I think we have to recognize that the diversity of our state is a strength,” Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said. “We need to recognize the successes when they are there. Not enough people know we have the number one state college system in America. There are not enough people who recognize that what they are getting for their families is a world class education.”

 

When it comes to economic development, talent has already replaced the tax incentive as the number one most important tool in an economic developer’s toolkit. If you don’t believe that, just look at California or Seattle and ask yourself- why would a business add jobs there? Despite their undesirable tax environment and regulatory climate, if that’s where the talent is, talent wins.

Today, if you ask a junior or senior in university or in any of our colleges, they’ll give you a place where they want to live and will bring their skills with them. If Florida can be the best place in the hemisphere in attracting and retaining high-skilled talent, families are going to want to stay here and move here, and businesses would never think of moving anywhere else.

However, in order for Florida to continue to grow we must acknowledge that Florida is changing. Our economics, our demographics and our politics are all changing and these changes are both opportunities and challenges.

What Florida has, is an opportunity to move forward. If we get early learning right, K-12 right, career training right, and lifelong learning right, we won’t have a skills gap in the future. I want to challenge the business community to do a better job communicating to the talent generators what we will need in the future. That might not mean a degree; that may mean a certification or more apprenticeship programs. I want us all to double down on the issue of how important talent is.

To help Florida move in the right direction, it’s vital that we look at what the data shows us. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s first Cornerstone Report in 1989 showed Florida ranked almost dead last in many K-12 metrics- just barely above Mississippi. Fast forward 20 years later and we are now in the top quartile for educational outcomes. We have come a long way with the help of our dedicated partners, a business community that is focused on outcomes and state leadership who is committed to excellence, however, we still have a long way to go. While Florida may be a leader in the United States in education initiatives, the real problem is that the U.S. is rapidly falling in comparison to other countries.

By 2030 Florida will have 5.7 million more people, 3 million new drivers on our roads, 50 million more visitors each year and will need to create at least 1.7 million new jobs over and above what we have right now. There is some great work being done in Florida but at the same time, Florida still has more than 1 million children living in poverty. And while job growth is increasing, Florida will lose more than 1 million jobs due to autonomation.

We Can’t Improve Without the Help of Florida’s Business Community

At the 2018 Learners to Earners Workforce Summit, we released the in-depth recommendations on Talent Supply & Education from our Florida 2030 research. These recommendations show where Florida is, where we need to be and more importantly, how we can work together to get there. I encourage you to take a look and provide your comments and thoughts.

Register today for the annual Future of Florida Forum where we will continue the conversation and release the full Florida 2030 report.

What Others Are Saying

The Tampa Bay Time’s Graham Brink wrote: Florida is in a must-win fight for talented workers. See the Florida Trend’s article about strategic thinking about Florida’s future. Check out the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s:  Early childhood learning dominates Tampa business summit.

 

Thank you to the Florida Chamber Foundation Board of Trustees, for your 50 years of providing leadership in Florida, and to the many partners and businesses who continue to make sure that the right things happen in Florida.

Tourism is Key to Florida’s Competitiveness

Florida reached another record-breaking year for tourism, by welcoming more than 116 million visitors from other states and countries in 2017.

Tourism is key to Florida’s competitiveness. The truth is that visitors to Florida help “pay the bills” and help ensure Floridians don’t pay a personal income tax.

Florida’s tourism industry brings in more than $6 billion in state taxes, and more than $5 billion in local taxes which in turn helps fund schools, improve healthcare and support other government services.

During tough economic times, investments in tourism marketing helped lift Florida up while also creating jobs for families. In fact, for every 85 visitors to Florida, one job is created.

Interestingly, first time visitors become long-term residents after learning of Florida’s welcoming and competitive business climate, and no personal income tax. And tourism is helping diversify Florida’s economy by increasing our international exposure – or increasing international trade in services.

However, one of the greatest benefits of Florida’s competitive advantage in tourism is that jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry are among the biggest training grounds for the skills employers are looking for.

At a time when Florida’s job creators are increasingly concerned with workforce quality, these are the very skills that will move Florida forward and support the 398,000 people looking for jobs.

While some jobs created are entry-level positions, Florida must continue to create an entry point into the workforce. This is especially important for helping the 2.9 million Floridians in poverty, by providing our residents with work-based solutions. We must keep in mind that the economic benefits of helping people into the workforce includes the opportunity to gain skills and earn an income – reducing dependence on social programs.

Through on-the-job training, internships and apprenticeships, employees learn valuable skills that contribute to a quality workforce in the future. Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry takes on-the-job training to new levels, and according to the U.S. Travel Association, two out of five workers that start their careers in hospitality end up earning six figures.

There’s little doubt that those who have moved to Florida – more than 100,000 in just the last year from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut – were first exposed to Florida as tourists. Florida will see increasing amounts of new residents from these states and others because of the change in tax laws benefiting Florida’s families and businesses. Florida Chamber Foundation’s Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish expects Florida’s population to expand by at least 400,000 residents during the next year. This means nearly 1,100 net new residents a day.

Florida’s tourism and hospitality industry are vital to Florida’s economy, and as Florida’s population continues to grow, so must our focus on making Florida the best place to live, work, and visit!

What Others Are Saying

  • Ken Lawson, President & CEO, VISIT FLORIDA: “Florida is open for all tourists from all the states and all countries.”
  • Q&A with Jim Dean, President of SeaWorld, Orlando
  • Expedia: A Partner in Florida Tourism

Help Secure Florida’s Tourism Industry

Florida welcomed 116.5 million visitors from other states and other countries in 2017. As the third largest state in the nation, how does tourism impact Florida’s long-term future? When visitors come to Florida, they help create jobs and pay $6 billion in state taxes and $5.3 billion in local taxes. Sales and other taxes paid by visitors help keep Floridians from having to pay an income tax. In fact, visitors to Florida pay in taxes the equivalent of $1,535 per Florida household. Tourism in Florida not only helps create jobs, but also allows Floridians in those jobs to acquire employability skills.

If you believe Florida’s tourism industry can continue to lead the way in the nation, sign the petition today.

Florida’s $10 Billion in Tax Advantages Getting National Attention

As President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, I’ve been interviewed in the past two months by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and several other news outlets and they all want to know the same thing- what are the significant tax advantages in Florida and what is the Florida Chamber doing to prepare for the expected job growth headed our way?

Thanks in large part to national tax reform, Governor Scott’s leadership and focus on jobs, and thanks to marketing by Pete Antonocci and our teammates at Enterprise Florida, Inc., leaders in other states are realizing the tax advantages of moving their families and businesses to Florida.

Following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employers nationwide announced pay raises, bonuses, lower prices, capital investments and more, due to the resulting benefits from federal tax reform. One would think this push to make America more competitive would be met with significant fanfare from all political stripes, but this has not been the case in certain states.  Here are a few actual examples of what other states are doing:

  • In California, two Assemblymen sought to punish businesses benefiting from federal tax reform by introducing a constitutional amendment that creates a new 10 percent tax on companies that have net earnings of more than one million dollars.
  • A group of Northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut, are planning to sue the federal government, claiming the federal tax bill “unfairly targets” high-tax states because of caps to state and local deductions, ignoring that their tax codes and economic models are the reason for their significant tax bill.

Unfortunately, politicians in high-tax states also have no issue with taxpayers in Florida and the rest of the nation subsidizing their state’s spending. This “Robin Hood”-type scheme is being exposed for what it really is – a failed tax and spend scheme.

Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish shares in his latest edition of By The Numbers, that $879,000 in income migrates to Florida every hour. Many high-tax states in the northeast are losing residents to Florida. In fact, 88,500 net new people in one year have moved to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania alone.

Florida’s leaders know that a competitive tax climate increases corporate investment and creates jobs, and with 26 million people expected to call Florida home by 2030, two million net new jobs will need to be created in order to keep unemployment below five percent. This is one reason Forbes has listed Florida as the number one state for growth.

Not only does Florida have no personal state income tax, it has cut taxes and fees by $10 billion since 2010 and has created nearly 1.5 million private sector jobs -outpacing the nation in job growth. Furthermore, Dr. Parrish now predicts Florida will be a $1 trillion economy by the end of 2018.

Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is doing a good job marketing Florida’s friendly business climate and promoting the advantages of Florida. The Florida Chamber was pleased to partner with EFI to highlight why now is the right time for businesses in other states to move to Florida. Click here to see the Wall Street Journal ad campaign.

Yet, despite having the most pro-jobs governor in America, in the recently completed legislative session, lawmakers made Florida a little more expensive for families and Florida a little less competitive for businesses.

I’m so proud of the Florida Chamber’s team of advocates for stopping more than a dozen bad ideas from becoming law this past session. These bills would have increased employer mandates, implemented overreaching regulations and further worsened Florida’s troubling lawsuit abuse climate.

What Others Are Saying

Business leaders across Florida recognize the unique opportunity that Florida has to further grow jobs and create economic prosperity for all.

  • Dr. Jackson Sasser, President of Santa Fe College and the Florida Chamber’s North Central Florida Regional Board Chair recently spoke about the importance of economic development – and the important role education plays – during a recent edition of the Florida Chamber’s Series on Free Enterprise.
  • Representative Clay Ingram discussed how infrastructure and tourism investments play a role in Florida’s economic development, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.
  • Husein Cumber, Executive Vice President of Florida East Coast Industries and Florida Chamber Northeast Regional Board Chair, was featured in the Florida Times Union sharing his support of Florida’s growing economy, and the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund which is helping transform Florida’s economy into next generation targeted industries.

While we’re looking forward to working with future legislative leadership, the Florida Chamber looks forward to ensuring candidates that believe in jobs and growing the economy are elected this fall.

Following a year in which sitting lawmakers earned the lowest grades in the history of the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card, there is simply no time to waste in electing candidates that want to see Florida succeed.

 

Join the Conversation at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity

Thank you for your strong support of the Florida Chamber. I look forward to working with you to ensure we continue to secure Florida’s future. If you have not yet registered for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity on May 3 in Orlando, click here.

The “Florida Plan” for School Safety Should Become a National Model

Last fall, just two months before the start of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Florida Chamber of Commerce put forward the business community’s legislative recommendations designed to make Florida more competitive and help businesses create good jobs and economic opportunity for everyone.

And, while these priorities will need and deserve attention in the future, the truth is, nothing on Florida’s business agenda matters if Florida, in this new world we live in, is not doing what is needed to protect our children, and to provide them a safe place to learn, explore and grow. In the days since the Parkland tragedy, I’ve heard from business and local chamber leaders throughout Florida – each expressing concern, and urging us to unite for reasoned and positive action while balancing individual freedoms and security of our children.

In many ways, Florida is moving in the right direction. As the third largest state, Florida is creating one in every 10 new jobs in America. More than 21 million people from all walks of life call Florida home, and more than 112 million visit our great state. Florida will become a $1 trillion economy this year, and employers will create more than 180,000 jobs in 2018 – outpacing the U.S. economy in job growth for the eighth year in a row.

As you know, the bookends of the Florida Chamber’s Six Pillars for economic prosperity are education and quality of life. From championing the talent developed in our education system, to protecting Florida’s family-friendly brand, we’ve made it our business to ensure today’s learners become tomorrow’s earners, and that Florida is the best place to live, work, learn, raise a family and pursue the American dream.

Business and local chamber leaders throughout Florida are encouraging our Governor and legislative leaders to ensure Florida has the procedures and laws in place to give our children, as well as their parents, the assurances they need to learn. Frankly, nothing else matters. As parents, we also recognize that, but for the grace of God, it could have been our children.

In my view, what unites us is far greater than what divides us. From picking up the pieces after Hurricanes Andrew and Irma, to uniting after the Pulse and Parkland massacres, there are many things that make Florida a national leader.

Our character is being tested yet again as voters throughout America are waiting for politicians to put partisanship aside, and put Americans first. Right now, Florida has an opportunity to set a national example to balance quality of life, safety, and important constitutional rights.

Therefore, on behalf of employers throughout Florida, I have encouraged our state’s leaders to show our residents, employers and the nation that Florida leads regardless of the political consequences.

If members of the Florida Legislature do the right thing for our schools, for our future, and they lose an election because of it, that’s one of the most honorable things an elected leader could do. I believe Floridians will reward them for putting the long-term best interest of Florida ahead of short-term political fixes. I believe their actions, can begin to restore unity in a nation where so much polarization keeps good people from agreeing on smart reforms.

Last week I respectfully encouraged Governor Rick Scott, President Joe Negron and Speaker Richard Corcoran to pursue the following four guiding principles to better protect our most precious resources – our children and families.

  1. Expanding mental health services, improving background checks, and empowering law enforcement with the tools they need to keep our young learners safe.
  2. Hardening schools and increasing School Resource Officer staffing.
  3. Increasing the age to purchase certain long guns to 21 years of age.
  4. Ensuring accessories to convert semi-automatic guns to fully automatic status are illegal.

Additionally, toward their consideration of the guiding principles toward new or revised policies, we requested their support include appropriate investments to ensure immediate implementation.

Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature have put forth their recommendations, and those proposals are actively moving through the legislative process. You can read more about those efforts at www.FloridaChamber.com/Safety.

On behalf of Florida’s leading employers, the Florida Chamber encourages lawmakers to take action – sacrifice the day-to-day details of legislative activities and secure Florida’s future by putting the safety of our students, Florida’s global brand, individual freedoms, and the future of our diverse state first.

Our hearts and prayers remain with the families and victims of the Parkland tragedy. By putting security, common sense and Florida’s quality of life first, we can secure Florida’s future.