Policy & Transportation Digest

By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Scott awaits budget without priorities: The Florida Legislature continued negotiations this week on a budget that lacks two of Governor Rick Scott’s priorities: $250 million for economic incentives, and $1 billion in tax cuts. Economic incentives were also a priority of business groups, including the Tampa Chamber, but have been zeroed out in negotiations between the House and Senate. Some tax cuts have been included in the current budget plans. The conflict between the Governor and the Legislature could lead to Gov. Scott vetoing the entire budget, and forcing a special session.

Tampa International Airport seeking support for Havana service: The competition for flights to Cuba took off this week as a dozen airlines submitted applications for one of 20 daily flights between the United States and Cuba. Tampa has a good chance at service, but nine other markets are also in the running.

Tampa International Airport has served Cuban markets since 2011, and is looking for community support to secure future airline services. You can visit their website and submit a petition to back JetBlue’s and Southwest Airlines’ applications for service from Tampa to Cuba.

It was confirmed this week the Tampa Bay Rays will play the Cuban National Team on March 22 in Havana, in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN. President Barack Obama is also expected to attend during his two-day visit to Cuba. The last MLB team to play in Cuba was the Baltimore Orioles in 1999.

Vinik says transportation is Tampa Bay’s “Achilles heel”: Speaking at an event with the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik called transportation Tampa Bay’s “Achilles Heel,” in promoting the region for economic development. It’s not the first time Vinik has noted transportation problems impacting Tampa’s economic potential. Vinik was optimistic that a solution was on the horizon.

Upcoming events:

Legislative Wrap-Up, April 8, 11:30am: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce invites you to join us for our 2016 Legislative Wrap-Up at Maestro’s Restaurant at the Straz Center. Our state senators and representatives from Hillsborough County will discuss the outcome of the 2016 Legislative Session and the Chamber Legislative Agenda. Visit the event page to register, and for more information.

Face The Chamber – 2016 Mayor’s Luncheon, April 15, 11:45am: Join us for the Mayor’s annual address to the Chamber and Leadership Tampa Alumni membership including the popular “Face the Chamber” segment. Check out our website for more information.

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About Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit business membership organization that helps promote the businesses and business interests of our members. We come from diverse backgrounds: from small businesses, big corporations, government bodies and the military. United, we become a single, unifying force with the power to shape the future of Tampa Bay.