Rick Scott Looks Ahead to Goals of 2012 Legislature
Around the State
Speaking to the AP’s annual legislative planning session in Tallahassee on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott said Florida should expect more of the same from his team in 2012, with a focus on jobs and economic development.
With the 2012 legislative session on the horizon, Scott said he remains committed to paving the way for more economic opportunities in the Sunshine State.
“It’s clearly going to be focused on job creation,” he said.
Pointing to the addition of more than 110,000 private-sector jobs since he took office in January -- while government shed almost 18,000 jobs from the public payroll -- Scott cheered the news.
Scott highlighted his “economic growth agenda” for the 2012 session, which calls for cutting back regulations on business; providing tax relief for businesses and families; reforming the state unemployment system and the workforce boards; passing a balanced budget without raising taxes; pushing for economic development through transportation projects; and backing science, technology, engineering and math in schools.
Insisting “a fee is a tax,” Scott said he hopes to draw the line on raising fees as well in 2012.
The governor told the audience about his trips abroad, stressing the economic opportunity facing the Sunshine State through more trade and through the state’s ports. He also called for reforming the tourist visa program, noting that Walt Disney World found this could lead to double their number of annual visitors.
“It’s a big opportunity for our state,” said Scott.
Asked about a bill in the Legislature introduced by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, that would expand casino operations in the state, Scott said he had not seen it.
“I don’t want our budget significantly tied to gaming,” he said.
Scott said he continued to back school choice, including expanded charter schools and opportunity scholarships.
“I believe in choice,” said Scott. “It makes everything better.”
The governor said he hopes to see a push for higher education reform but thought it would be unlikely in 2012.
“I would like to do it right,” Scott said. “This session will be harder to get things done due to redistricting.”
Scott said he would wait until later to weigh in on redistricting.
Noting that many Republican leaders backed primary opponent Bill McCollum during the 2010 cycle, Scott said he would not be offering many endorsements in 2012 and would not commit, for the moment, in getting behind any of the Republican hopefuls looking to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012.
As his first year in office draws to a close, Scott continues pushing for economic development and jobs.
“People do know now that Florida is open for business,” Scott said.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.