Ginni Thomas

Leaders with Ginni Thomas: Rick Scott

Ginni Thomas Contributor
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Interview with Florida Governor Rick Scott (R)

While most of the media coverage of last fall’s elections focused on House and Senate races, there was an unusual amount of drama in statehouse around the country, where almost half the states elected new governors (seven Democrats and 17 Republicans). Perhaps the most significant race took place in Florida. Rick Scott, a health care executive and political neophyte, took on a popular former congressman in the GOP primary and a well-funded opponent in the general election, and beat them both.

Scott, the son of a truck driver and a JC Penney clerk, promised to govern as a small government conservative, and almost immediately began to make good on his word. First he made headlines by turning down President Obama’s offer of $2.3 billion for a high speed rail system in the state. Next he began to cinch the belt on education, taxes and pensions.

The rapidly tumbling poll numbers that resulted have raised at least one obvious and troubling question: Voters may say they want fiscal austerity. They may even vote for it. But are they willing to live with the consequences? Florida may soon become a case study for the nation.

The DC’s Ginni Thomas caught up with Gov. Scott before a recent speech in the Washington area to find out more:

Describe running for public office for the first time
“I ran because I’ve lived the American dream. I started school living in public housing…. We’ve got to make sure we get our country back to where people can find a job and live the American dream that I lived.”

How do you help create jobs and cut spending?
“Nobody comes to my office and says, ‘Oh Rick, we’d love you to cut something.’ No one does that.”

What do you hope to accomplish? [1:01]
“We’ve got to budget, we’ve got to reduce taxes, we got to reduce property taxes, reduce the size of government, the cost of government, modernize our pension plan, we’re going to have a great Medicaid reform package, education.”

Florida challenges Texas on Job creation.
RE: State ratings for how conducive each state is for business and jobs: “I sent Governor [Rick] Perry [TX] a letter and… said your time is up. Seven years is enough… Next year will be our turn.”

Reading the fine print of President Obama’s offer for High Speed Rail to Florida.
“It’s not a good project for us.”

Is Washington picking winners and lowers based on politics?
“I was at a National Governors Association meeting – and it appeared that Democrat Governors were getting their waivers done promptly and the Republicans weren’t and that’s not right because the Medicaid recipients in Florida are just as important as the ones from another states.”

How have you handled the labor agenda and public sector unions?
“We had a nice discussion… and it passed.  So now state workers are going to participate in the pension plan and we made some changes and they’re going to be good for taxpayers, good for state workers and good for having a plan that’s viable.”

Excuse me, but what is that on your FEET, Governor?

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For more on Florida Governor Rick Scott, see: