We all know that John Kasich has a Florida fetish. We don’t know why.
In 1996, the State of Florida created the first public-private, not-for-profit economic development in much the same model that John Kasich proposed Ohio to do today.
It didn’t turn out so well for Florida.
In a 2001 audit, the State’s Comptroller found that the private corporation “treats its top executives to bonuses and lavish travel while making grants to businesses whose officers sit on its boards.” It also did such a poor tracking of its disbursements that it couldn’t guarantee that the funds that it reported coming from “private business donations” didn’t originate from… aid that the agency had given those companies.
A report issued by a non-partisan office of the Florida legislature that same year found that the agency’s exaggerated its role in creating jobs particularly in distressed urban and failed to provide adequate economic development services in rural areas.
Because the salary and bonuses for the Florida company was tied to performance, earlier reports by the legislature found that the company “created” jobs in areas of Florida that already had strong local economic development efforts like in Miami-Dade, Duval, Hillsborough, and Orange (Orlando) Counties.
In other words, privatizing the State’s economic development and tying the Board and executives’ compensation to performance lead to:
- Inflated reports as to the number of jobs it was responsible for.
- A state agency that was more interested in getting credit by focusing on where “natural” job growth was already occurring and other economic development agencies were “creating” jobs, instead on focusing on developing the areas of the State in the most need of development.
Fourteen years after privatizing its State’s economic development, where does Florida find itself now?
It has a higher unemployment rate than Ohio. It’s forty-seventh in the nation for unemployment.
John Kasich’s entire platform is based on copying from whom he deems are the “smart kids” on the right and copying their answers to see if they’d work in Ohio. Except, he hasn’t even looked into whether these changes, per se, have improved economic effectiveness.
Do I believe that the existence of Enterprise Florida, Inc. is responsible for Florida’s economic problems? No, not necessarily. But the larger point is that change for change’s sake doesn’t lead to a better result and instead can create even more problems instead.
Kasich’s proposal today is to hand the business community the cake knife to decide for itself how much to divide the corporate welfare pie among themselves. And he’s even promising obscene bonuses for them if they can claim their taxpayer gorging worked. Insane.