By GARY FINEOUT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) â¿¿ Florida Gov. Rick Scott's top official in charge of recruiting jobs to the state is probably going to get a hefty raise.
Enterprise Florida, the organization set up to lure companies to the state, is expected to approve a new two-year contract for president and CEO Gray Swoope later this month.
The new contract would allow Swoope to make up to $375,000 in salary and bonuses â¿¿ or a 25 percent increase over what he makes now.
A panel that reviews Enterprise Florida's budget â¿¿ most of which comes from taxpayers â¿¿ approved the new contract on Tuesday. A final vote â¿¿ which could include Scottâ¿¿ is expected at the end of the month.
Alan Becker, a prominent South Florida attorney on the Enterprise Florida board, contended that Swoope's pay needed a boost to bring it in line with other top economic development officials. He also said Swoope, who is also known as Florida's commerce secretary, was doing a great job.
"I can say without reservation that Gray Swoope has demonstrated the greatest industry knowledge, accountability for staff and operations, and inclusion of the board and the state's economic development partners in achieving the organization's mission," Becker said.
Swoope, who was recruited by Scott away from Mississippi, is eligible for $300,000 under his current contract. His base salary of $230,000 comes from taxpayers, while he is also eligible for a bonus which comes from private contributions. Swoope has gotten a $70,000 bonus the past two years.
The new deal structures his base salary and incentive pay at $275,000 and makes Swoope eligible for an additional $100,000 bonus.
The proposed new contract â¿¿ which runs until July 2015 â¿¿ also guarantees a payment of $137,500 to Swoope even if he is removed from his job by the next governor. This could give Swoope some insurance in case someone defeats Scott during the 2014 election.