Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Visit Florida won their battle for a $76 million budget in 2018 in the final hours of a special session held by the Florida Legislature on Friday, June 9. Gov. Scott originally pushed for a $100 million budget for Visit Florida and later vetoed the Florida Legislature’s decision to reduce its budget to $25 million.
Visit Florida President & CEO Ken Lawson released the following statement on June 12.
“I just want to say thank you. With the help of [Gov. Scott], the Legislature and you, HB 1A passed last week, supporting 1.4 million Floridians who work in the tourism industry,” Lawson said. “Because of your dedication and support, Visit Florida is now fully funded and we can continue marketing our state.
“With Gov. Scott leading the way, partners such as Sawgrass Recreation Park, Medieval Times, ResortQuest and hundreds more of you can continue attracting record numbers of tourists to your businesses across the state,” Lawson continued. “I am forever grateful for your hard work.
“Now, we must move forward together to attract 120 million visitors to our state this year. It is an ambitious goal; but we are an ambitious team. Just as we worked together to obtain full funding, I am confident we will be victorious once again for our state.”
The 2018 funding bill still needs to be signed by Gov. Scott, but once signed, it will take effect on July 1. It was also said that Visit Florida's funding comes with new restrictions related to transparency and accountability.
In addition to securing Visit Florida’s funding in 2018, Gov. Scott also gained access to—and control over—an $85 million pot of money for job-creating road and infrastructure projects across the state.
More information on Florida’s special session is available via U.S. News & World Report.