St. Petersburg Times – March 15, 2011
Associated Industries of Florida today sent the below letter to Senate President Mike Haridopolos regarding Destination Resort Legislation.
An inaccurate letter sent to you by Everett Wilkinson falsely claiming to represent the interests of the “Tea Party” begs clarification and a response from those who support bringing world class Destination Resorts, tradeshows and conventions to the Sunshine State.
First and foremost, the legislation proposed by Senator Dennis Jones and Representative Erik Fresen is not a legislative proposal being pushed by one entity. Associated Industries of Florida, as well as many other businesses and development companies known for building must?see attractions, support this legislation.
Second, the author of the letter falsely stated that passage of the Destination Resort Legislation would cost the state “$1.8 Billion in lost Indian Gaming Revenue.” It is important to point out that: 1) the Seminole Compact only guarantees $1 billion over a five year period; 2) the state will not forego any of the Indian gaming funds because it is unlikely that any of the resorts as proposed in the legislation could be operational prior to the expiration of the compact; 3) Mr. Wilkinson is incorrect again regarding the $378 million annual payments made to the state by the Seminole Tribe. In fact, under the compact, the Seminole Tribe is required to pay $150 million to the state in 2011.
It is also important to point out Mr. Wilkinson’s misguided accusations that this proposal would increase Florida’s budget problems is completely without merit. Estimates show this legislation as drafted would create approximately 140,000 jobs and more than $22 billion in revenue over a five year period.
We must also take issue with the economic arguments in attempting to compare Florida to Las Vegas. This proposal is not a gaming proposal and should not be compared to Las Vegas. This is an economic development proposal that would allow for developments in areas with community support and can attract more than 5 million out-of-state tourists to Florida annually. The impact of these destination resorts would increase revenues to thousands of small businesses around the state.
Finally, Mr. President, we would urge you to consider this legislation affording it the same consideration many other pieces of legislation receive. Unlike Mr. Wilkinson, we believe that all proposals, especially ones that could create so many jobs, should receive a fair hearing in the legislative process. Preventing any valid jobs proposals from receiving a hearing is a disservice to the one million unemployed citizens of Florida.
It is clear that those who are afraid of competition and strive to maintain the status quo will challenge this new proposal. However, Florida now must be more innovative than ever to compete for large trade shows and conventions, provide jobs, and spur economic development. Florida must reassert itself as the number one destination state in the U.S. This legislation will accomplish those goals.
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