On Friday morning, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that he would be calling a special session for next week to raise per pupil education funding in the state and to workout accountability measures for his economic programs, Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida, while establishing a new fund that will focus on workforce training.
The Governor also announced he signed the 2017 budget with $410 million dollars in vetoed projects. The special session will run next week from June 7th to June 9th.
“It is my goal that a total of $215 million more is allocated to the FEFP which is a $100 per student increase over current year funding during the upcoming legislative session.” said Scott “Today, I am announcing that I intend to veto HB 5501 relating to Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA. While I believe very strongly in these programs and their ability to help bring more jobs to Florida, there needs to be a new bill relating to these organizations and how they operate.”
Scott later called on the legislature to set funding for VISIT Florida at $76 million, which is higher than the $25 million dollars orginally proposed by state lawmakers but lower than his $100 million dollar asking amount. Lawmakers aimed to eliminate VISIT Florida’s, economic development counterpart, Enterprise Florida, but will hope the extra transparency measures at the two embattled agencies and the new Florida Job Growth Grant Fund which Scott is proposing to establish to promote public infrastructure and job training will be enough. The price tag for the new program is $85 million dollars.
Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, who has dueled the Governor on many of these issues through the media, was optimistic about the progress that was made and what could be accomplished in the upcoming special session.
“The people of Florida should be proud today that you can have leaders with competing opinions and still compromise to meet common goals — government in Florida is working and the biggest winners are all Floridians.” said Corcoran.
The tentative plan also received the approval of Americans for Prosperity Florida, who stood with conservatives regarding the controversial programs that they felt was “corporate welfare” that invited outside companies to compete with Floridians using their own tax dollars.
“This is a huge win for taxpayers and a huge win for our organization and the activists that drove the discussion.” said AFP Florida State Director Chris Hudson.