Visit Florida Escapes Cuts

Visit Florida Escapes Cuts
By Linda Kleindienst


TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday restored full funding to Visit Florida as he vetoed more than $90 million in budget cuts approved by the Legislature last week.

“I appreciate the difficult work of the Legislature to reduce the current year’s budget during these historically challenging economic times,” Crist said. “However, I believe we can tighten our belts while still maintaining our investment in priority areas.”

Tourism officials had warned that the Legislature’s $9.9 million cut to the marketing budget of the state’s tourism development agency would only put Florida deeper in the hole.

In his veto message restoring the funds, Crist noted that Visit Florida matches every $1 from the state with $2 in private investment. In 2007, tourism comprised 19 percent of the state’s total taxable sales, returning $3.9 billion to the state in sales taxes and generating $65.5 billion in direct economic impact.

“We cannot afford to forgo an existing revenue source at a time when Florida depends on every dollar,” Crist said.

The governor also vetoed an $11 million cut to the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund, which uses the money to help lure new industry to Florida.

“There are certain projects for which the competition to retain or attract business is so great that opportunities may be lost if flexible and readily available incentive funds are not available,” Crist said.

The Legislature cut more than $2 billion in current year spending during the special session to offset losses in sales tax revenue.