Critics argue companies receiving tax breaks for job creation are just relocating



ORLANDO, Fla. - It was billed as a major coup. Founded in 1918, the Hertz Corporation is preparing to leave behind the Garden State for the Sunshine State. The car rental giant announced in May it would relocate to Lee County, bringing with it 500 jobs, but the relocation comes at a cost of $85 million.

Hertz will get $19 million up front and the rest of the $85 million in incentives and tax breaks for relocation, but critics point out these aren't new jobs.

Many of the deals inked by Gov. Rick Scott and Enterprise Florida have been for relocations, not creations. Almost all of the 500 jobs Hertz is bringing to Florida are already filled.

"When you have a government-run entity spending taxpayer dollars, that's our money," said Dan Krassner, executive director of government watchdog group Integrity Florida.

Similar deals have been made with Verizon Wireless in Lake Mary and Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville.

Verizon is poised to take in $7.5 million in incentives in exchange for creating almost 750 jobs.

However, like Hertz, many will be transfers of already-filled positions.

Monday, Deutsche Bank announced it will expand its footprint in Jacksonville, adding 300 jobs in exchange for $2.3 million in incentives from the state, county and city.

"In the short run you can create incentives to draw jobs from somewhere else," said Rollins College Political Science professor Dr. Rick Foglesong, "but at some point you have no more incentives to give."

Since 2008, Florida has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the county, outpacing the U.S. average for almost four straight years, but that has changed.

In early 2013, Florida's unemployment rate dipped below the national average, a trend it continued in May, posting its lowest level (7.1 percent) since September 2008. The numbers bolster the campaign promise made by then-candidate Scott when he promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years.

The Governor's Office maintains more than 330,000 jobs have been created, but most of those jobs are a result of an improving national and state economy and many more were simply moved to the state using tax dollars.

"The governor said he would create 700,000 (jobs) beyond what would have occurred anyway and he said that they would be good jobs," said Foglesong.

Internet superstore Amazon is in talks with the state to build several distribution and warehouse facilities in the Tampa area, creating 1,000 new jobs in exchange for about $3 million in various tax breaks and exemptions.

While critics point out these will be new jobs, they also point out the salary range for new jobs. According to Enterprise Florida, the state economic development arm, the average pay for the Hertz jobs will be in excess of $100,000 a year, meanwhile the average pay for the new jobs created by Amazon will be closer to $47,000.

Scott has responded to questions about the job creation numbers and questions over the use of incentives with the following statement: "I'm focused on what I know will be accomplished through my 7-7-7 plan – the creation of 700,000 jobs over seven years regardless of what the economy might otherwise gain or lose. Floridians will judge me not on what an economist in Tallahassee predicts, but on actual job growth each month. Those are the numbers I will be held accountable for and that's what I remain focused on."