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FL Candidates on Job Creation, Energy Independence

August 06, 2010

Florida is one of many states without an incumbent governor participating in the 2010 gubernatorial election, as Gov. Charlie Crist, who served just one-term in office, will seek an open Florida U.S. Senate seat this fall in a race against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek. Crist is running as in Independent. Policy aimed at job creation is the topic of much debate in Florida, where unemployment is around 12 percent. Gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott (R) and Alex Sink (D) recently provided detailed jobs plans and outlined proposals to achieve energy independence, which are highlighted in the second installment of SSTI's special election series.

Rick Scott (R)
A health care executive and navy veteran, Rick Scott is focusing his campaign around a seven-step economic plan that he says will create jobs and allow Florida to become a job creation model for the nation. In seven years, the 7-7-7 economic plan aims to create 700,000 jobs and generate $74 billion in state GDP, $41 billion in higher personal incomes, and $1 billion in total state revenues as a direct result of increased economic growth. Investing in the state's universities, phasing out the business income tax, reducing property taxes, and enacting regulatory reforms are included in the plan.

To grow and retain jobs, Scott would continue to invest in the Innovation Incentive Fund, established in 2006 under Gov. Jeb Bush to attract major life sciences institutions and create high-tech jobs. In the past few years, the fund has lured Scripps and Burnham research labs to the state. Lawmakers recently replenished the fund with $75 million in the FY11 enacted budget (see the June 9, 2010 issue of the Digest). His plan also includes nurturing new cutting-edge technology clusters, such as the biotechnology cluster in Orlando. To eliminate overlapping economic development agencies, Scott would designate one group to assist local economic development agencies and serve as the statewide recruitment agency.

Citing a world-class university system as necessary to establishing a workforce capable of enhancing the state's technology sectors, Scott would invest in university research, laboratories, business incubators and technology transfer. Although no specifics on funding or action items are outlined, the plan refers to connecting university research to the state's economic development process and leveraging investments in the state's medical colleges to invest in new or emerging technologies.

Scott supports expansion of nuclear power, use of alternative fuels and off-shore drilling, according to his campaign website. However, details for obtaining energy independence are not included.

Alex Sink (D)
In her bid for governor, Alex Sink unveiled a two-part economic recovery plan for the state, detailing three steps state government can take to help small businesses recover in the short-term and a vision for expanding and diversifying Florida's economy in the long-term. Sink is Flordia's chief financial officer and a former bank executive. To stabilize and expand small business, Sink's plan calls for improving small business access to capital, including incentives for venture capital investing and micro-loans; creating a small business ombudsman in the Office of the Governor to oversee and coordinate issues affecting small businesses; and, encourage small and startup businesses by pushing to defer state corporate income taxes of qualified startup companies for the first three years.

Sink's short-term plan also includes enacting tax incentives aimed at job creation, including providing a corporate income tax tied to job creation. Last week at a Tallahassee workforce center, Sink proposed an $8,800 tax break for any company that creates a new job, reports Central Florida News 13.

Investing in energy technology and medical services industries is part of Sink's long-term strategy for remaking the state's economy. She proposes to expand R&D and commercialization of new products through R&D tax credits for in-state investment. Florida is one of 19 states that do not offer this incentive, according to her campaign website.

Sink's strategy to achieve energy independence is tied to job creation in green technology sectors and focuses on moving energy technologies from the lab to the marketplace by expanding public-private partnerships already being fostered through the state's research universities. An example of such a partnership exists between Florida Atlantic University, the state of Florida, and the U.S. Department of Energy, all of which are collaborating on an ocean energy project, according to Sink. Other proposals include adopting a statewide renewable portfolio standard and retooling the workforce for the renewable energy sector by seeking federal resources through the U.S. Department of Labor. Sink points to Michigan's No Worker Left Behind initiative as a model.