FOX 13 (TAMPA) - Governor Rick Scott was in Tampa Monday, hoping to rally business and community leaders to his cause as he fights to keep two state agencies intact.
Visit Florida nd Enterprise Florida, which lure tourists and jobs to the state, could be on the chopping black with several lawmakers pushing to cut public funding for the programs.
Scott, however, is pushing back and is holding panels across the state called "Fighting for Florida Jobs."
"I am shocked that members of the Florida House of Representatives, politicians in Tallahassee are turning their back on job creation," Scott told reporters after a forum at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. "We know we're doing a good job. We're having record tourism numbers. That's a lot of jobs for families."
More than 100 people, many of them business owners and community mayors, joined the governor and hailed Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida as necessary to keep money flowing into the state.
The governor even received rare support from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat.
"Ultimately it's about results," Buckhorn said. "I couldn't care less what his party affiliation is. He couldn't care what mine is. We're focused on growing the economy and growing opportunities and both of us are singing off the same song page on this one."
The majority of the debate has centered around Visit Florida, which came under fire for a lack of transparency; some accused the agency of hiding expenses, most notably a $1 million contract with the musician Pitbull.
Lawmakers fired the agency's CEO and has replaced him with a new boss. Gov. Scott is asking for funding that is approaching $80 million for Visit Florida.
"Our economy is on a roll. This is crazy to stop this," Scott said.
The debate continues to pit the Republican Governor against the Republican Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran.
Corcoran has said Visit Florida is another example of wasteful spending of taxpayer funds and is supporting a bill that would defund Visit Florida and, in the process, Enterprise Florida too.
"There's no correlation between what we're spending and what we're getting in return," Corcoran recently told FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick in a segment on Money Power Politics.
The House Speaker also accused Enterprise Florida of, what he calls, "corporate welfare" in which he said the state is choosing which businesses will succeed by giving them incentives.
"Should I reach into your pocket, take money out of your pocket and give it to Fortune 500 companies to advertise for themselves? We don't believe that should be the case," he said.
Corcoran added in a statement to FOX 13 Monday:
"Every legislator shares the Governor's desire to see Florida add jobs. Our disagreement is about how we accomplish that goal."
Governor Scott, however, said he will continue his fight this week; in addition to the forums he held Monday in Tampa, Cape Coral and Flagler Beach he has another one scheduled in Panama City Tuesday.