In My Opinion

Gov. Rick Scott’s ‘jobs, jobs jobs’ is just talk, talk, talk

Rick Scott talks jobs, jobs, jobs for Florida. But Nicolás Maduro delivers.

Gov. Scott, the candy man of come-to-Florida corporate incentives, has been doling out state tax breaks, tax credits and other goodies, in a frantic attempt to fulfill his gaudy 2010 campaign promise to deliver 700,000 new jobs.

Unhappily, Scott’s booty hasn’t induced so many actual hires. The Miami Herald-Tampa Bay Times capital bureau examined $266 million in incentive deals supposed to create 45,258 new positions. We’re still waiting on 96 percent of those hires.

Meanwhile, Nicolás Maduro, without a single incentive from the governor’s office, has done far more to revive the state’s most important construction and real estate market. Maybe Scott’s incentive money should go toward propping up Maduro, the hapless president of Venezuela.

Maduro, continuing the unsettling economics of Hugo Chávez, has scared off Venezuelan investors and sent them fleeing, with gobs of money, to Florida. Though Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner probably deserves a little incentive money too.

Their collective ineptitude deserves a hell of a lot more credit for South Florida’s real estate rebound and construction boom than anything that has come out of Tallahassee.

The Herald-Times investigation looked at $25.2 million in various state incentives larded out to firms in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. These deals, announced with all the attendant hullabaloo, were supposed to bring South Florida 5,456 jobs. So far, Herald-Times writer Steve Bousquet reported, the new hires total 61. Any one of the 10 or so gleaming condo towers going up in downtown Miami, financed with money fleeing Latin American uncertainties has had more of an economic impact than these shabby state give-aways.

State tax breaks have often gone to outfits like call centers and big-box discount stores that, if they actually make hires, pay barely more than the minimum wage. Scott’s exuberance for poverty-level jobs makes one long for the days when Gov. Jeb Bush was showering incentives on high-paying outfits like Scripps Research Institution, the world class biotech outfit supposed to transform the very economy of Florida.

Not that Bush’s giveaways had any better results than Scott’s. The Sun-Sentinel reported that after spending $856 million in state and local taxes to lure Scripps to Palm Beach County back in 2003, the project has created 944 direct and spin-off jobs. More than $900,000 for each new worker.

These job totals don’t include the nice work that has gone to all those economists cranking out studies warning that tax incentives make for bad investments. Just three months ago, the non-profit, non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released yet another study warning that “despite the enormous expenditures being made on these programs, the evidence suggests that tax incentives are of little benefit to the states and localities that offer them, and that they are actually a drag on national economic growth.”

As far as actual job creation in Florida, let’s not give Gov. Scott any more credit than President Maduro. And let’s not give anyone a tax credit.

Read more Fred Grimm stories from the Miami Herald

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