Florida’s aerospace and technology industries could get a boost, among other things, if an expired targeted tax refund program for the industry were given new life by state lawmakers. The program won the support of Florida TaxWatch, which released the results of a study early Thursday calling on lawmakers to roll back the Qualified Target Industries Tax Refund Program (QTI) after failing to receive legislature support in two previous sessions.
Critics of government-funded business incentives say they mean “corporate welfare,” but others point out that Florida will have a hard time competing until other states stop using such programs. Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Colabro Rejects the corporate welfare seal for the QTI, saying that many companies considering moving would not even consider a state if it did not offer certain incentives.
“While Florida TaxWatch has long taken the position that incentive programs will not be the only reason a company will select a particular state to locate business in, they can certainly be a disqualifying factor in the early stages or a deciding factor in the final stages. “Said Colabro. “Essentially, they can make a difference – especially when it comes to the growth and diversification of the manufacturing sector – and without QTI, the government could lose billions in economic benefits.”
The QTI scholarship program was first established in 1994 and is subject to annual approval by the state legislature. It has typically enjoyed bipartisan support but ran into trouble when it failed to get enough votes in two consecutive legislative sessions in 2019 and 2020. The program is performance-based and aims to reimburse corporate income, sales, ad valorem and other specific states, and local taxes that are only paid by companies when specific, targeted pledges are met to help create and maintain high-paying to promote quality jobs in the most sought-after industries.
To qualify for a QTI reimbursement, a company must apply to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and be certified as a qualified target industry company. This currently includes the aerospace industry; Corporate Headquarters; clean technology; Defense and homeland security; Financial and professional services; global logistics and trade; Information technology; Life sciences; Manufacture; as well as research and development.
“It is clear that QTI Florida brings significant value with its robust return on investment of greater than five to one, creating thousands of high-paying jobs every year. In fact, 159 certified companies under the program created 7,890 jobs in fiscal year 2019-2020 alone, and QTI generally produces jobs that pay more than 140 percent of the nation’s median annual wages, ”said Colabro. “We hope that lawmakers will consider this during the 2022 legislative session and agree that we cannot delay the relaunch of QTI, a flagship economic development program with a proven track record.”