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Gov. Scott Continues Pummeling First Coast Lawmakers Over Business Incentives In Jacksonville

Ryan Benk

For the fourth time since the start of the legislative session, Governor Rick Scott held a roundtable Tuesday in Jacksonville defending the state’s business-incentive program.

This time the two-term Republican governor focused on the intersection of employment and education, joining Mayor Lenny Curry and leaders from the city’s largest college and university.

Scott, accompanied by Department of Economic Opportunity Director Cissy Proctor, once again gathered business leaders to chide Northeast Florida lawmakers for voting to discontinue Enterprise Florida — the state’s private-public partnership that offers tax incentives to lure businesses to the Sunshine State.

Scott’s frustration with the First Coast’s House delegation was palpable.

“Every House member up here — but Jay Fant — every one of them, voted to get rid of these things. It’s all about these students getting jobs,” he said.  “I have kids, I have grandkids, I want them to live in Florida and I want them to have a good job.”

Alongside University of North Florida President John Delaney and Florida State College at Jacksonville President Cynthia Bioteau, Scott argued business incentives make it easier to place students in jobs upon graduation.

But Enterprise Florida opponents said the program is nothing more than corporate welfare and results are questionable.

The Senate has yet to vote on the future of the program.

Listen to an interview with executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Cissy Proctor

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.