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Gov. Rick Scott, House speaker at odds over taxpayers funding state tourism

Millions spend annually on state marketing

MIAMI – Gov. Rick Scott is "the jobs governor," which explains why he believes Enterprise Florida deserves $85 million in taxpayer dollars and Visit Florida deserves the $78 million it’s given.

Visit Florida is the state's tourism development agency and Enterprise Florida is dedicated to recruiting companies to relocate to Florida through cash grants and tax incentives. 

But Scott is facing fierce opposition from Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who calls tax money for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida "corporate welfare." 

The two top Republicans are at odds over this issue. 

"Nobody thinks marketing doesn't work," Scott said.

He said some in Tallahassee – including representatives from South Florida -- have voted to reduce funding for marketing the state.

"We give Pitbull $1 million. We give $2.3 million to wrap a race car to run around a track. We give $1 million to a soccer team," Corcoran said. "Our point is:  Why do taxpayers have to take money out of their pockets to pay for the advertising of Fortune 500 companies?"  

Corcoran seems to have the upper hand at the moment. 

"It's de facto socialism," Corcoran said. "Basically saying government has this wisdom. We're going to take money out of the people’s pockets and we’re going to decide who succeeds and fails in the marketplace. We’re gonna pick winners and losers" 

He said tourists come to Florida with or without state advertising, just as companies come without cash incentives or big tax breaks.

Scott doesn't agree.

"We're not picking winners and losers," Scott said. "We're picking winners. And the winners are those who get a job in our state. This is a great return on taxpayers' money."

Some Miami Republican representatives are for the moment putting their loyalty behind Corcoran, above their party loyalty to the governor. 

They will likely follow Corcoran's lead on any compromise. 

The governor told his supporters on Thursday to put pressure on state representatives from this area to support his agenda.