Tallahassee Democrat – January 5, 2011
Confidently declaring “Let’s get to work,” Rick Scott became governor Tuesday and ordered a review of government regulations he said are choking Florida’s economy.
The Naples health-care executive, a business-minded Republican who spent some $73 million of his own fortune to become the first governor of modern times with no prior political experience, ordered the creation of an Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform to review all state rules and regulations and get rid of those that inhibit business growth.
“Three forces markedly reduce that chance for success — taxation, regulation and litigation,” he said. “Together, those three form the axis of unemployment. Left unchecked, they choke off productive activity.”
Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, said he is willing to give Scott a chance, especially since he chose Jennifer Carroll, a former legislator and friend, as lieutenant governor.
“New administrations are a wonderful time to hit the reset button and move forward,” Williams said.
However, Williams remains concerned about Scott’s pledge to slash the state workforce by 5 percent.
“Our state government does it better, cheaper and faster than any other state government, our size or smaller,” Williams said. “We have to show him that he can’t create 700,000 jobs in seven years by cutting the state workforce. We have to work together to make job creation happen.”
Scott said the state government can’t create jobs, but can get out of the way to give companies the chance to profit from Florida’s climate, educated workforce and low taxes.
“For me, job creation is a mission,” Scott said in his informal, 15-minute inaugural address.
Scott promised tort reform. “We will not allow a small group of predatory lawyers to stalk the business community in search of deep pockets.”
He issued four executive orders right after being sworn in.
One created the accountability office, one requires state agencies to check the immigration status and job eligibility of state employees and contractors, another sets forth a policy on ethics and open government and he also signed an edict forbidding discrimination in state employment and contracting.
Scott intends to take fast action on another campaign promise today, announcing sale of the state’s executive jet and elimination of most or all of the Department of Management Services aircraft pool. The Cessna Citation Bravo was a target of Scott’s anger in campaign TV commercials.
The 45th governor’s formal oath and parade on Monroe Street — temporarily renamed Rick Scott Way for the ceremony — wound up a two-day whirl of parties and receptions. The crowd on the Old Capitol’s east lawn spilled across the street to metal bleachers, as a band mixed military and patriotic tunes and country singer Lee Greenwood sang “God Bless the USA.”
Scott’s oath was followed by a 19-gun salute by the Florida National Guard’s 116th field artillery unit and a flyover by jets from the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville. Scott was relaxed and smiling, beginning his speech with “thank you, thank you, thank you” and musing about the mild, sunny weather.
Barney Bishop, president of Associated Industries of Florida, scribbled notes during the speech and said he was especially pleased with the freeze and review of regulations.
Former Govs. Jeb Bush, Bob Martinez and Claude Kirk said Scott’s promise to foster an economic climate that creates 700,000 new jobs can be kept if government goes on a diet.
“I loved it when he said, ‘Government can only give to us what it has taken from us already,’ and how we’ll ‘create the most favorable business climate in the world,’ ” said Bishop.
“I think he hit all the right themes.”
Bush said he favored rolling back state regulation. “Environmental regulation can be done thoughtfully, without killing jobs,” Bush said.
Bush estimated 1.7 million jobs were created in Florida when he was governor, 1999-2007, “although I’m not taking credit for it … If the economy rebounds, 700,000 will be low.”
Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, leader of the 12-member Democratic minority in the Senate, was skeptical about Scott’s criticism of big government, enthusiasm for business interests and willingness to slash regulatory red tape. She said “I look forward to hearing the specifics” of his plans.
“The hope and new beginning this state yearns for goes far beyond partisan dogma and special interests domination,” Rich said Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, praised Scott for “staying on message.” The jobs-creation theme was the core of the campaign that brought Scott from political outsider to the governor’s mansion last year.
“I think he’s going to find strong partners in the House and Senate, and he’s going to succeed,” said Haridopolos.
In his inaugural address, Scott compared having 1 million unemployed to a hurricane and said he knows the feeling.
He told of his father being laid off and his mother taking in ironing to make ends meet when he was a boy.
To start his address, he pointed to the live oak trees around him, and ended with a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. He said the oaks are there “because acorns had a plan” and that his plan will bring back the state’s economy if the state has “the courage to act” in new and bold ways.
“Shakespeare put it this way: ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.’ I believe this is high tide,” said Scott.
“May God bless the great state of Florida,” he concluded — ending with his campaign slogan, “Let’s get to work.”