Beverly Hills, FL — State Senator Jack Latvala made his first visit to Beverly Hills in his 42-year history of involvement in Florida Republican politics this morning.
Introduced during his visit by Nature Coast Republican Club Chairwoman, Debbie Ressler, and former State Senator, Charlie Dean, Senator Jack Latvala addressed approximately 80 Citrus County residents at the Beverly Hills Lion Club. Citrus County Clerk of Court, Angela Vick, Citrus County Property Appraiser, Les Cook, Citrus County Commissioner, Jeff Kinnard, Citrus County School Board members, Sandy Counts, Doug Dodd, and Linda Powers, and Citrus County Republican Executive Committee Chairman, George Gasparini, were also in attendance.
According to Wikipedia, Senator Latvala is a potential candidate in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election. And, supportive “camps” may have already started to take form behind specific candidates. Wikipedia mentions several other notable candidates, including Florida Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran, who has Citrus County ties, and Adam Putnam, Florida State Commissioner of Agriculture, who recently garnered support on social media from Dale McClellan, owner of M&B Farms and a local leader in the Citrus County agriculture industry. At press time, Mr. McClellan was unavailable for comment.
Some speculated that Latvala’s visit was his first attempt to solidify and expand his support in Citrus County for a possible run for Governor. After all, why would a State Senator who represents Pinellas and Pasco Counties make a visit to Citrus County during an active Legislative Session?
Others didn’t read that much into Latvala’s visit and just enjoyed the networking, pancake breakfast, and his speech.
Regardless of the potential motivation behind his visit, Senator Latvala’s 25-minute speech sounded very much like a stump speech, often stating that he stands with Governor Scott and that Speaker Corcoran is often on the wrong side of the issues.
Latvala first focused on economic development by stating that “the Speaker would have you believe that we’re taking money or just throwing it at companies around the country to try to get them to come here. First of all, all of the programs that we have, are based upon performance. You don’t get any money, you don’t get any incentives, until you produce a new job. There is no money given on an if-come basis. You have to produce the job.”
Latvala then focused on their differences on tourism. According to Latvala, “Speaker Corcoran wants to reduce spending on tourism by at least two-thirds. What’s ridiculous about that is the return on investment is 3.2 to 1. That’s in direct tax dollars generated.” Latvala attributed the return on investment ratio to Legislative economist(s) but there was no clear breakdown of what portion of tourism-based tax revenue came into Florida due to state-level Visit Florida expenditures in relation to individual county marketing efforts derived from local county “bed taxes.”
Latvala wrapped up his support for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida by stating that he would kill any measure to damage or eliminate the programs, noting that both programs were Republican initiatives. He defiantly stated that “as Charlie [Dean] knows, a bill to pass up there has to pass both the House and the Senate and I’m not passing it in the Senate. Every bill like that has to come to my [Appropriations] Committee and it’s not going to pass.” The 80-person audience applauded to that.
When asked by John McIsaac of Sugarmill Woods if he was in favor of the homestead exemption going up from $50,000 to $75,000, Latvala shared that he was against it for now. “Some of the people that have come along in recent years, because of term limits, there’s not as much an appreciation of local government and our local government officials as I’ve always have. I’ve always felt local government officials are just as smart as I am. They’re my friends locally. I have great respect for their opinions. There’s a lot of young members, especially in the House, who think they’re smarter than their County Commissioners or whoever at home. That’s going to be a tough issue. I’m inclined at this point in time to probably not to support [it] but we have to wait and see.”
Even if today was not an official campaign stop for Governor, Senator Latvala demonstrated that Citrus County is important enough to visit during Legislative Session. He demonstrated he is willing to take on Speaker Corcoran. He demonstrated that he supports Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. He demonstrated he will be seeking the support of local County Commissioners, School Boards, and local officials if and when he officially announces. He demonstrated that he is an institutionalist willing to protect programs already in place regardless of real or perceived ineffectiveness or scandals. And, he revealed that he’s a supply-sider, hesitant to relinquish tax revenue, especially recurrent revenue streams.
If Citrus County is truly as important to the 2018 Florida Gubernatorial Race as Senator Latvala made it out to be this morning when he visited our county during Legislative Session, going so far as to point out that he helped Commissioner Kinnard during his own race for local office, then Citrus County most likely will see Speaker Corcoran and/or Commissioner Putnam also visit soon flaunting how they too have made separate yet distinctive impacts locally, as well.
Submitted by: Lou Newman, CEO/Publisher of the Suncoast Standard, (c) April 8, 2017 4:10PM
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