In fiscal 2012, nearly $72 million in incentive payments were made to 103 companies that created 13,000 new jobs with an average annual wage of $69,000. State representative Jose Rodriguez said more transparency is needed in those taxpayer-funded programs and he has proposed legislation for more stringent reporting for economic incentives. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
“Land prices are lower than they have been in 15 years. This is exactly the moment you want to borrow.” — Eric Draper, executive director, Audubon of Florida More
Since taking office in 2011, Scott has made reducing the state’s debt level a fiscal centerpiece of his administration. For many, including Scott, lower state debt amounts to good financial stewardship, tax savings, a lessened burden on the taxpayer and an ideological triumph. For those who operate schools, however, less debt means decaying facilities and no new buildings. Full story.
A look at Florida's troubled election this past fall prompted some finger-pointing and back-tracking Wednesday. Top party officials, two election supervisors and two legislators had a confrontational discussion about the 2012 election at the Associated Press' annual legislative planning meeting. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
They’ve only been in business for one year, but already a dynamic duo has a chance to make major changes to state ethics laws. “Florida is leading the country in corruption and it’s time to crack down,” said Dan Krassner. Dan Krassner and Ben Willcox created Integrity Florida to make government more transparent. It appears to be working. [Source: WJHG]
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Florida's investment in freight infrastructure is being highlighted as one of 10 state and metropolitan initiatives to watch by the Brookings Institution. Read more from the South Florida Business Journal and see the report.
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Does Hollywood casino really offer the 'loosest slots in America'? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Earlier this month, Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood began promoting itself as having "the loosest slots in America." But is that really true? And what does that even mean?
› Panama City bumps Miami for top rebound in tourism spending [Miami Herald]
Miami-Dade’s tourism industry has lost its claim to Florida’s biggest economic comeback. Tourism spending is up 21 percent in Miami-Dade since the recession, an impressive rebound by any count. And until recently, no other industry in the state was posting stronger growth.
› State backs commercial space investments at Kennedy Space Center [Florida Today]
At a meeting Wednesday in Tallahassee, Space Florida’s board approved funding to complete renovations to a former shuttle hangar and to repurpose another local facility for commercial use.
› Ruth's Chris will open restaurants in China [Orlando Sentinel]
Winter Park-based Ruth's Hospitality Group said Wednesday it will start building restaurants in China. Four new Ruth's Chris Steak Houses will open in China over the next three years, the first in 2013.
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› Smaller but wiser, St. Pete Chamber rebounds [Tampa Bay Times]
On Friday, Chris Steinocher wraps up his second year as CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. So far, his efforts to revive the chamber's credibility – financially and, more to the point, to the city's business community – are on track.
› Florida Attorney General Bondi talks about mortgage settlement [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
There's still time for Floridians to apply for their share of $170 million available in cash payments if their homes were foreclosed on between January 2008 and December 2011, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Wednesday at a press conference outside Fort Lauderdale City Hall.
› Lawsuits reveal high-end auction-house rivalry [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Chad Roffers, the once hot-shot Sarasota real estate agent who filed for bankruptcy protection last year, is now embroiled in a nasty legal fight with a competitor.
› Immigration reform advocates pushing lawmakers for action [Tampa Bay Times]
In a major push for immigration reform, several advocacy groups throughout west-central Florida are uniting in an effort to pressure federal lawmakers for change.