EFI and VISIT FLORIDA in Budget Jeopardy
By: Florida Chamber of Commerce
The future of jobs and Florida’s economy are in the hands of the Florida Legislature as lawmakers today go line by line through House and Senate budgets in preparation for the two chambers gathering to hammer out key funding details.
Of concern is the current investment recommendations for Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA, Florida’s economic development and tourism marketing programs. Drastically reducing or worse, eliminating Florida’s targeted and proven economic development programs will not provide the momentum Florida must have in order to keep our state’s amazing job creation success going.
Governor Ron DeSantis recommended funding Enterprise Florida at its current level in his Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget for FY 2019-2020. Under the current budget proposals, the Florida Senate has recommended fully funding EFI’s operations budget, while the House proposed zero dollars in investment. However, both chambers have proposed $0 for new economic development programs, such as the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.
Governor DeSantis also recommended funding Enterprise Florida at its current $76 million level as part of his budget. Florida’s tourism industry is a key driver of our state’s $1 trillion economy. Visitors to Florida contribute more than $12 billion in state and local tax revenue annually. For every 76 visitors to Florida, one new job is created. Florida has more than 1.4 million tourism-related jobs, and revenue from visitors is why Florida is an income tax free state.
Under legislative budget proposals, the Florida Senate has recommended $50 million – a $26 million reduction, while the House has recommended only $19 million and permanently sunsetting the agency on October 1.
ICYMI: Debra Harvey, COO, Ron Jon Surf Shop and Florida Chamber Board of Directors member, recently wrote in the Daytona Beach News Journal:
“Eliminating VISIT FLORIDA means Florida will lose business, market share and tax dollars to competing destinations. Look no further than Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania to see how their states were impacted when tourism marketing investments were cut.” Debra Harvey, Ron Jon Surf Shop