Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are Florida stadium subsidies just "forced taxpayer handouts?"

The morning after we put out our third stadium subsidy story on WTSP in a week, conservative group Americans for Prosperity is calling on the Republican-led legislature to end the "forced taxpayer handouts" to pro sports teams.

The group issued a statement that read, in part, "This whole debacle really shows that when millions of dollars are on the table, special interests will find a way to get a hold of the money. It would have been good for the DEO to at least evaluate the applicants this year, but it would be even better for the legislature to end the corporate welfare and instead allow Floridians to individually decide which sports facilities to support via their ticket purchases and investments."

Just to recap, our investigation revealed:
  • Florida's new stadium subsidy "competition" is no different than the old incentives, except way more money will be doled out;
  • The process was designed to reduce lobbying in the state capital, but will likely increase it, at least this year;
  • Much of the "new" tax revenue the renovations will create are from higher ticket prices & inflation, not new visitors to Florida;
  • The law was written in a sneaky way so that the Miami Dolphins & Daytona International Speedway aren't required to show their tax receipts will actually increase with the renovations;
  • Daytona and the Dolphins want to use state money to reduce their facilities' capacities;
  • State Sen. Latvala received more than $120k from the teams and owners that benefited from his 2014 stadium bill.
ALSO SEE: Teams' claims about tax dollars unfounded
ALSO SEE: Gov. Scott dodges questions about stadium subsidies

The Associated Press reports: "(Latvala said) legislators assumed the $7 million they set aside would cover everybody that wanted help."

So it sounds like the first year was supposed to be $7 million in assumed handouts - not the search for projects with positive "return on investment" as we were told.  Maybe we'll get a "competition" next year when there's $6 million more in annuities available.

Americans for Prosperity railed against film subsidies too {INFOGRAPHIC}, and their statement is amazing.  Read it all here, but here's a small snippet:

"Because some lawmakers were misled by Hollywood lobbyists promising massive economic growth, illustrious films and shows like Spring Breakers, Magic Mike, What would Ryan Lochte Do?, and even a Victoria’s Secret commercial were approved to receive millions in corporate welfare...It’s time to end Hollywood’s B-rated cronyism drama in Tallahassee. No more handouts for special interests.”

1 comment:

  1. Very rarely do I find myself agreeing with AFP (or even their existence), but I think they're spot on here.

    On a tangent: I love how each of the four subsidies is scheduled to run for three decades, as if they don't all run the risk of becoming "antiquated" by 2045.