Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2017
House votes to severely cut funding for Visit Florida
Visit Florida will likely remain an entity as the state's tourism marketing organization but with severely reduced funding.
The House Appropriations Committee voted to keep Visit Florida alive but with funding of just $25 million, a reduction of 67%.
Florida House speaker Richard Corcoran's amended bill would also require the agency to be more accountable with staff travel and salaries and full transparency over contracts which must be made public.
The amendment follows an original House vote which wanted to cut all funding entirely.
"We're putting them on a leash -- a short leash -- and provided that they show measurable progress and success with the new accountability measures that we put in place with this bill, then there is certainly an opportunity down the road for them to ask for more," said bill sponsor Rep. Paul Renner.
The office of Gov. Rick Scott, a staunch supporter of Visit Florida, said it will likely cost jobs.
"More than a million Florida families rely on jobs in our tourism industry and are threatened with this massive cut," it said.
"If we cut the budget by 67%, our state will lose visitors and our families will lose jobs."