It’s the 21st Century—government officials shouldn’t be making backdoor deals with special interests any more. But a quasi-state agency—Enterprise Florida—does just that. Florida needs to end its old way of doing business and get out of innovation’s way. That can be achieved by passing House Bill 7005.
This legislation will eliminate Enterprise Florida, which is nothing more than a corporate welfare slush-fund that hands out taxpayer dollars to politically connected businesses. Eighty-seven state representatives saw this agency for what it truly is and recently voted in favor of HB 7005. Now it’s time for the state Senate to follow suit.
Corporate welfare is never a good idea—it allows those who have government connections to get ahead at the expense of taxpayers and its competitors. This is especially dangerous for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking to disrupt an established market.
Agencies like Enterprise Florida help established, politically-connected businesses through tough times thanks to taxpayer-funded handouts. But if you’re an entrepreneur looking to start your own company, you’ll likely have to use your own money to get it off the ground and find innovative ways to keep your business afloat during lean financial times.
Consider Hertz, the car rental company. In 2013, Enterprise Florida gave Hertz $85 million in tax credits and subsidies to persuade the company to move its headquarters to Lee County and create 700 jobs. It’s been four years and Hertz has only created 150 jobs, while losing more than a third in stock-market value last year alone.
Millennials are struggling to get ahead in Florida, weighed down with student loan debt and limited good-paying job prospects. Enterprise Florida has not helped. The state legislature tasked the agency with creating 20,000 high-paying jobs by 2005. After giving away more than $1.7 billion in incentives, Enterprise Florida had only reached half its goal by 2013—that’s eight years after its deadline!
Besides failing to create jobs, Enterprise Florida took resources away from individuals and small businesses that could have kept more of their paycheck to invest in and expand their own operations. The agency heavily relies on taxpayer dollars to fund its investments. Despite being created as a public-private partnership, more than 85 percent of Enterprise Florida’s budget comes from the state.
Government doesn’t advance the economy, people do. By eliminating Enterprise Florida, legislators will level the playing field so all companies—regardless of their size or age—can innovate, develop, and compete fairly. As Millennials, we pride ourselves on our ability to look at a situation and adjust accordingly. But Enterprise Florida puts us at a disadvantage to do so.
Those 87 representatives in the House have brought us closer to ending the old way of doing business—now it’s the Senate’s turn.
Add your voice to the chorus of activists calling for the Senate to end corporate welfare in Florida. Click here to sign a petition by one of our partner organizations, Americans for Prosperity Florida, to make your voice heard.