House budget panel weighs raids on trust funds, Visit Florida’s future

A House budget panel debated sweeping money from housing, transportation and economic development trust funds to meet spending cuts imposed by House leaders.
The House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee also entertained a suggestion that Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion arm, operate on local tourism taxes, instead of state general revenues.
Rep. Mike La Rosa, a St. Cloud Republican, came up with the idea as a way out of the contretemps between Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the wisdom of spending state tax dollars to promote economic and tourism development.
“Have it funded locally, so there’s a secured funding mechanism for Visit Florida,” La Rosa explained following a committee meeting.
“Hopefully, that gives a little more buy-in for local tourist boards. Then, the state can decide what role it wants to play, ultimately, in Visit Florida,” he said.
“There would have to be some policy changes,” La Rosa conceded. “I haven’t gone that far and started to think about who’s ultimately going to control it. Is that the locals 100 percent, or does the state still buy in and still have some general direction in it?”
La Rosa sits on the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee, which was scheduled later in the day to take up legislation supported by Corcoran and other House leaders to eliminate state spending on economic incentives, including Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. The bill is PCB CCS 17-01.
The transportation and tourism panel heard leaders of the agencies under its purview — the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Department of Transportation, the Department of State, the Department of Military Affairs, and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles — explain what Scott’s $83.5 billion proposed state budget would mean for their agencies.
Then it took up an excercise in budget cutting imposed by House leaders worried that state spending is outpacing tax

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