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Palm Beach County gets short shrift, obstructionist legislators hurting business

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The Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation is not taken too seriously by the leadership in Tallahassee. To understand why, look no further than the delegation’s composition.

fl legislatureThe Florida Legislature understands the key role the business community plays in the state’s success. The Legislature, thankfully, is business-friendly as a group, and it scores high marks on legislation that makes Florida businesses healthier. It knows that strong businesses make strong tax bases, strong jobs numbers and quality communities.

That recognition has helped Florida become a national powerhouse for job creation. Businesses seek out our state for several reasons:

Our Legislature is serious about decreasing frivolous and costly litigation against employers.

Legislators and the Governor work to reduce taxes that injure businesses.

Legislators are hawk-like in prohibiting “progressive” local governments from adopting regulations and ordinances that hurt job creation.

Florida is the best state in the union for starting or relocating a business. Newsmax confirmed that in its June magazine by ranking the Sunshine State as tops for a business-friendly environment, fiscal health, jobs and overall quality of life.

Unfortunately, too many Palm Beach County legislators don’t get it. Many of them vote in ways that don’t help business very much, tainting the entire delegation and engendering little respect for our delegation as a group. Too many local legislators show animosity to leadership’s goals. I hear it all the time when I speak with legislators in Tallahassee: “Can’t you people in Palm Beach County send us more electeds who aren’t obstructionists?”

The numbers tell the story. Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce tabulate and rank the votes of Florida legislators. Every vote cast by every legislator on business issues is analyzed, revealing who is business-friendly and who is not. And here’s the bottom line: Two-thirds of Palm Beach County’s legislative delegation rank in the bottom quartile on voting to support business priorities. A super-majority of local lawmakers don’t care very much about keeping businesses healthy, and they buck the initiatives of legislative leaders to reduce burdensome taxation and regulation on Florida companies. I will be more blunt: Some members of Palm Beach County’s delegation are the laughingstock of the Legislature.

We send these people to Tallahassee to fight for Palm Beach County’s interests, but their political antics and obfuscation render them powerless to bring positive benefits. So the county gets short shrift.

mark pafford, WPB Democrat
Rep. Mark Pafford, D-WPB

It’s always slightly amazing to me why the voters of certain legislative districts persist in sending obstructionists to any legislative body to represent them, especially to Tallahassee. But it’s been that way for many years, and the result has been that for every dollar our county sends to Tallahassee in taxes, we get back about 35 to 40 cents. That’s a dismal score in my book.

Rep. Mark Pafford, a local legislator who always ranks very near the bottom every year on business votes, is the current chairman of the county delegation. So how are county business leaders supposed to react when they see that the local delegation’s leader represents them poorly in Tallahassee?

It’s time for a change. Any local legislators tired of getting disregarded in Tallahassee need to reach out to business leaders and work with us in building a healthier partnership. As always, we prefer productive relationships with elected officials, and our offer stands to meet with you to discuss upcoming issues or matters that affect business.

John R. Smith

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