After a fierce debate about the issue during the 2017 legislative session, a majority of Floridians back the use of business incentives — though support has dropped in recent years, according to results of a USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey released Tuesday.
The survey found that 58 percent of Floridians support business incentives as a way to create more jobs and tax revenue, while 28 percent see them as corporate welfare. Support was down from a high of 69 percent in 2010.
The annual survey, conducted in July and August by the University of South Florida College of Arts and Sciences and The Nielsen Company, LLC, came after a battle this spring between Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, about funding for business-recruitment efforts by Enterprise Florida.
Corcoran regularly criticized incentives as corporate welfare, while Scott said such programs are needed to compete for jobs with other states. The battle ended with a compromise that included the creation of the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which makes money available for economic development but seeks to prevent it from going to projects that provide exclusive benefits to single businesses.
The newly released results of the USF-Nielsen survey indicate the greatest support for incentives comes from whites, Hispanics, people ages 55 to 64 and Floridians with the highest household incomes.
The survey of 1,215 Floridians, conducted from July 24 to Aug. 14, has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.