Florida Politics

Scott's job program gave incentives to company housing detained migrant children

A 2016 photo, provided by the federal government, of a dorm at the Homestead compound that housed hundreds of immigrant children at that time. Media have not been allowed inside the former Job Corps facility since it reopened in 2018, so it's not known if the quarters have changed.
A 2016 photo, provided by the federal government, of a dorm at the Homestead compound that housed hundreds of immigrant children at that time. Media have not been allowed inside the former Job Corps facility since it reopened in 2018, so it's not known if the quarters have changed.

Gov. Rick Scott and his staff have been quick to say that no state resources are being used to operate the federal immigration detention facility in Homestead that is housing some of the children separated from their parents under the Trump administration's explosive new immigration policy.

But the company that has been contracted by the federal government to run the Homestead facility, Comprehensive Health Services Inc., was awarded $600,000 in state incentive money in December 2016 as part of the governor's job development program and credits the program with allowing the company to expand in the state.

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In the 2016 press release, Scott announced that the Cape Canaveral-based company was consolidating its operations in Virginia to Florida and expanding its headquarters at its Space Coast office. The move was supposed to create 150 new jobs and result in the investment of $4.5 million in the local community.


"With the EDC’s assistance, CHSI chose a location and we are customizing a facility that will continue to meet our ongoing business expansion needs,'' said Gary Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Comprehensive Health Services Inc., at the time.


According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state awarded the company $600,000 in incentive money from the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program. The contract, completed in July 2017, requires the company to receive tax refunds for every job it creates with a salary of $66,000 or more. It gives the company until December 2021 to create the jobs. DEO spokeswoman Tiffany Vause said Tuesday that the company had not received any tax-refund money yet but would be eligible to do so for the first time this year.


Five months before the contract was complete, in February 2017, Comprehensive Health Services agreed to pay $3.9 million to settle allegations it violated the False Claims Act by double-billing the IRS for electrocardiograms and vision tests. Comprehensive Health Services did not respond to a request for comment.


Scott, the Republican governor who is running for U.S. Senate, distanced himself from the Trump administration on Monday regarding the immigration policy.



"Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families," the governor said in a statement. "Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border."

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@miamiherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaryEllenKlas


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