by Lisa A. Grimaldi | May 01, 2017
With Florida lawmakers slated to finalize their fiscal 2017-2018 budget on May 2, Visit Florida's CEO and president Ken Lawson continued to fight the proposed $51 million cut -- from $76 million to $25 million -- to his organization. In a statement released over the weekend to the Florida tourism community, Lawson said:
 
"As the budget process continues in Tallahassee, it's been made clear that the legislature has turned their backs on Florida's tourism industry. Originally, the Florida House of Representatives proposed to cut Visit Florida's budget to $25 million, a 67 percent decrease. This week, we learned that in a backroom deal the Florida Senate essentially decided to eliminate tourism marketing by agreeing to this unacceptable amount of funding.
 
"I testified in front of the Transportation, Economic Development and Tourism budget conference committee yesterday, and warned them of the dire effects of cutting Visit Florida's budget. Now is not the time to stay quiet. We need you to call and email the legislators below to tell them that Visit Florida deserves to be fully funded so the tourism industry can continue to support 1.4 million Florida jobs. Even though we are running out of time, we need to stand with Gov. Scott and his recommendation to fund Visit Florida at $100 million.
 
"Email, contact on Facebook and Tweet @ the Florida House and Senate that the tourism industry is watching how they vote on this issue. Use the hashtag (#TourismWorks4FL).
 
"We care about the jobs and do not want to lose a single job because of a haphazard deal cut without public vetting. The legislature will be working through the weekend, but they need to hear from you now if we plan to change this awful deal for our economy."