What does the governor's Paris trip really buy? - New York News

What does the governor's Paris trip really buy?

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Florida's pavilion at the Paris Air Show (photo via @FLgovscott on Twitter) Florida's pavilion at the Paris Air Show (photo via @FLgovscott on Twitter)
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Paris is a place many dream of going, but not everyone can afford to make the trip. But some lucky state and local officials went there for the Paris Air Show and your tax dollars helped pay the tab.

The governor's office says the purpose of attending and setting up a booth at the trade show is to promote Florida's aviation industry and bring back high paying jobs in the aerospace industry.

But not everyone sees it that way.

"When you have government officials flying off to Paris for the champagne and caviar dreams of Europe to do business and then hand away more of our tax dollars to these companies, the average Floridian just can't relate to that," says Dan Krassner, executive director of the government watchdog group Integrity Florida.

"In these times, in any times, Floridians should question when people are flying around the world, what are we getting for that?" continued Krassner.

Krassner examined the numbers from 2011, the last time Florida attended the Paris Air Show, and says the payoff just isn't there.

"They signed up several deals with aviation and aerospace companies and jobs were promised, but where are they?"

A half-dozen companies have entered into deals, according to the state's official website that tracks the information. Here's the list:

  • Airdyne Aerospace - Hernando County
  • V & N Aerospace - Brevard County
  • Kaman Aerospace Corporation - Duval County
  • KCI Enterprises, Inc. - Duval County
  • Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation - Palm Beach County
  • The Boeing Company - Brevard County

Nancy Blum-Heintz, a communications vice president with Enterprise Florida, confirms there are no jobs yet, but she points out there's the promise of 821 new jobs. Heintz tells FOX 13 the deals are structured over a number of years -- usually three to five -- and none of the millions in committed incentives has been paid out yet.

Supporters, like the Group Florida TaxWatch, say trade missions like Paris are a unique opportunity to develop and strengthen important business relationships.

"It's important for the diversity of the economy, bringing jobs and capital to Florida, and making sure we are highly relevant and highly successful. So it's about jobs and capital in Florida and the only way to be there is to be present," offered Dominic Calabro, CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

FLORIDA TRIPS: http://www.floridataxwatch.org/resources/pdf/TradeMissionsFINAL.pdf

But how much is this weeklong show costing taxpayers? FOX 13 was told the numbers won't be totaled up until a month or two after it's over.

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS: http://content.foxtvmedia.com/wtvt/html/misc/paris2013.pdf

What's the budget? We were never provided that information.

The governor's office points to several early successes this year in Paris, Including Embraer's announcement of aircraft orders for as many as 365 twin-engine passenger jetliners. The company's U.S. headquarters is based in Ft. Lauderdale.

But did this deal really happen over in Paris on the very first day? Krassner suspects the Paris Air Show is just being used as a backdrop for deals that were negotiated long before leaving the state.

"What are we getting for this except a nice Paris summertime vacation for politicians and bureaucrats," Krassner added.

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