Legislative Agenda Puts Jobs, Growth and Economic Opportunity in the Driver Seat
By: Edie Ousley
Urges Lawmakers to Put Florida’s Long-Term Competitiveness Ahead of Short-Term Political Fixes
TALLAHASSEE (November 17, 2015) – As the Florida Chamber enters its 100th year of fighting for business, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today unveiled its 2016 Competitiveness Agenda – a comprehensive legislative agenda that focuses resources and expertise to advance jobs, growth and greater economic opportunities for Floridians. Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda builds on 104 pro-jobs bills passed and signed into law in the last five years, and is helping position Florida to be America’s number one private sector job creator.
Although there are more than 30 scored items in the 2016 agenda, here is a sample of what will make Florida more competitive:
- A tax climate that helps generate job growth (we support a $1 billion cut),
- A talented workforce to fill those jobs (continued education reform),
- A diversified economy, and further improving Florida’s business climate (we support the $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund and other improvements to EFI),
- A quality of life that includes science-based water policy, and
- Smarter healthcare outcomes through transparency, competition and ending the cost shift.
Looking at Florida’s economic horizon, it’s clear Florida is making positive strides. More than 941,000 private-sector jobs have been created since Governor Rick Scott was first elected, approximately 3,000 regulations have been eliminated or improved, more than one billion in taxes have been cut, and Florida’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in seven years.
Looking forward, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish projects that by December, Florida will have created one million net new private-sector jobs since Governor Scott was elected, and he projects that Florida will create 220,000 new jobs in 2016.
“While Florida is moving in the right direction, now is not the time to be complacent,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Florida is in competition for private-sector jobs with other states, and therefore we must ensure a tax and business climate that is welcoming to job growth, ensure that we have a talented workforce to fill those jobs, ensure that Florida’s quality of life provides sustainable water resource solutions and that we lower the cost of healthcare through better outcomes. Now is the time to put Florida’s long-term economic security ahead of short-term political fixes.”
Based on input from Florida Chamber members, local chambers of commerce, partner associations, research, and unfinished business from 2015, the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda is a blueprint of legislative priorities that it will lobby, track and score this Legislative Session.
LOWERING THE COST OF LIVING ON FLORIDA FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES
To lower the cost of living and the cost of doing business, the Florida Chamber recommends approximately one billion dollars in targeted tax cuts as follows:
- Phasing out the Business Rent Tax (taxes on commercial leases),
- Continuing to phase out the corporate income tax,
- Permanently eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment, and
- Supporting sales tax holidays on back-to-school items and hurricane preparedness.
CHAMPIONING A TALENTED WORKFORCE TO FILL JOBS
Talent is the new economic development currency. A quality education is the best way to ensure students can compete in a global economy, and therefore the Florida Chamber recommends:
- Staying the course on school grades, and issuing school grades this year, and
- Providing educational opportunities and economic independence for individuals with unique abilities.
DIVERSIFYING FLORIDA’S ECONOMY & IMPROVING FLORIDA’S BUSINESS CLIMATE
To build the perfect business climate, the Florida Chamber recommends:
- Investing in Florida’s Enterprise Fund,
- Fixing Florida’s broken legal system by addressing Assignment of Benefits and Fair Settlement lawsuit abuses, and
- Engaging a workers’ comp legislative solution if the Florida Supreme Court rules against job creators and in favor of trial lawyers in pending court cases.
SECURING FLORIDA’S WATER FUTURE
To secure Florida’s water future, and avoid California’s mistakes, the Florida Chamber recommends science-based water policy that will:
- Help ensure a clean and abundant water supply,
- Reduce the prospect of “water wars” among users in resource-limited areas, and
- Promote strategic partnerships between the public and private sector in achieving water resource development goals.
LOWERING THE COST OF HEALTHCARE
Whether or not the legislature expands Medicaid, the Florida Chamber recommends reducing the cost of healthcare by:
- Greater transparency – whether pricing outcomes or value of procedures or facilities – provides greater competition and is a win for Florida families,
- Eliminating healthcare fraud and abuse through innovative practices and technologies,
- Allowing telemedicine to serve as an alternative healthcare delivery system to increase capacity, deliver high quality of care and control costs, and
- Increasing the capacity and number of medical professionals by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to practice to their fullest potential.
A complete listing of the Florida Chamber’s 2016 Competitiveness Agenda which outlines more than 30 priorities the Florida Chamber will be lobbying, tracking and scoring this Legislative Session, is outlined in Where We Stand and available at www.FloridaChamber.com.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.