January 27, 2009
Today, Governor Charlie Crist (R) revealed his list of vetoes to the budget recently passed by the Legislature during a January Special Session. We are happy to report that the Governor has reinstated the $9.9 million cut to VISIT Florida’s budget. VISIT Florida is the state’s chief tourism marketer. Tourism is one of Florida’s top industries, and investing in tourism marketing dollars is sound public policy. In fact, for two years now, AIF, alongside 20 other business groups, has highlighted spending on tourism as one of the recommendations included in our Economic Stimulus Package, or ESP. Also of note to the business community is the Governor’s veto of cuts to the Quick Action Closing Fund (an economic development tool that is essential for attracting new businesses to locate in Florida). Last, but not least, the Florida Forever program (a state-sponsored land purchasing program) was saved from cuts to its budget. Last year, AIF led the efforts of the Coalition for Responsible Preservation of Public Land, a group of like-minded business groups who were advocating in support of the Florida Forever program.
AIF was disappointed in learning that the Governor did not exercise his veto power to save the $190 million in cuts to Florida’s affordable housing programs. Housing is one of our greatest economic engines – when that engine is fueled, our economy thrives; when it is not, our state’s economy falters. According to the Sadowski Affordable Housing Coalition, for every $1 million of state funding in housing, $10.36 million of economic activity is generated. AIF will continue to advocate in favor of spending on housing during the upcoming legislative session, and we urge our members to communicate to their elected officials their support for these economically vital programs.