DBPR Employees to Scott: We're Floridians Too

By: Keith Laing, The News Service of Florida
By: Keith Laing, The News Service of Florida

Tallahassee, FL - Gov. Rick Scott heard an earful Wednesday from state employees who could lose their positions under budget cuts proposed by Florida’s self-described “jobs governor.”

Taking questions from workers at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Scott was asked repeatedly about his plans to privatize some state functions and to increase the amount state workers have to contribute to their pension fund, all part of an effort to right-size government so he can put Floridians to work.

“State employees are Floridians too,” one worker, who didn’t give his name, reminded the governor.

And that worker actually likes Scott.

Florida Governor Rick Scott fields questions from Department of Business and Professional Regulation employees in Tallahassee on Tuesday, February 23, 2011.


“I love your ideas and I respect you and I thank you very much for what you’re trying to do for Florida,” said the employee, who said he came from the private sector to work for the state. He asked Scott if someone from the governor’s office might be made available to talk to his team at DBPR’s Bureau of Education Testing to figure out what options might be out there to keep the bureau open.

Another worker in the same bureau, which may be eliminated, questioned the governor on why that was, when the bureau has generated $1.28 million for the state.

The exchanges stood in contrast to some of Scott’s earlier visits to state agencies, when he joked that employees must have been told not to ask him questions.

Scott’s $65.9 billion budget proposal, his first since taking office, includes eliminating some 8,600 state government jobs, which could result in a number of layoffs.

He also is asking 655,000 public employees to contribute 5 percent to their pension fund, which another DBPR employee also questioned Wednesday.

“Sir I understand the budget crisis, but we’ve all been given the opportunities (to get) higher paying jobs with the private sector. I came out from one of (those private sector) jobs to serve the citizens of Florida and settled for lower pay in wages,” the employee told Scott. “As state employees, we trust the government’s commitment to retirement and to health care benefits. My question is do you fully realize the gross unfairness of that proposal?”

Scott’s answer for that was that fairness was not the question.

“Every employer in the state has figured out the only way to control health care cost, is to have the individual that’s receiving them more responsible for the cost, because they’ll buy health care better,” Scott said. “That’s what everybody’s having to do. Whether any of us like it or not, whether it’s fair or unfair.”

Scott also told the DBPR employees that he was trying to protect their pension plans by asking them to contribute more to them.

“Everybody here wants a plan they can rely on,” he said. “Right now, your plan is underfunded, whether anybody wants to acknowledge it or not…whoever the youngest is, everyone else should thank them, because there might not be a pension plan, just like we’re worried about Social Security.”

Scott also said financial problems causing angst for state workers aren’t unique to government.

“Everybody in the private sector is dealing with the same thing that governments are dealing with. There’s less money,” he said. “There’s less money in all these companies and you guys all cause it. As example, y’all shop at Wal-Mart right? You don’t say ‘golly, I’m going to buy the product because they have a better pension plan, a better 401 (k) plan, a better health care plan or they pay more taxes.’ You say ‘I’m going to buy based on price.’ That’s what taxpayers are doing now. They’re moving around the country to pick states where they can keep more of their dollars.”

As for the Bureau of Education Testing positions that would be eliminated under Scott’s proposed budget, the governor told the employees he was not proposing any cuts just because he was anti-state employee.

“Here’s the way I look at things,” he said. “If state government can do it better than the private sector, state government is going to do it. If the private sector does it better, the private sector will do it. You as a taxpayer, that’s what you expect. If there’s no reason why the private sector can do it any better, it won’t happen.”

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  • by Lois Armstrong Shuck Location: Boise, Id on Feb 28, 2011 at 09:09 PM
    The first thing Floridians did wrong was vote Republican. Sorry to see the state where I grew up turn into a hell hole full of greed. The only reason they aren't talking giving the elders the shaft is the big retirement demographic. Bet the Republicans will be glad when the last of those die off and Florida's tourism and other interests can replace the old bats. I live in a right to work conservative state and there are more illegals here than you can count. Slave wages is what they pay and they just voted to take "Living Will" rights away from the terminally ill. Way to go, Floridians. You had a good thing and you blew it.
  • by Average Joe Location: FL on Feb 25, 2011 at 12:34 PM
    To Don't Need Permission - What an intelligent response. What, pray tell, would my drawing SSI have to do with anything? But for your info., no I don't collect SSI. But I will, because the Government MADE me pay into it. We have a contract - I pay them when I work, then they pay me when I retire. No Socialism there. Socialism is taking tax money from me and wasting it. Like buying votes from government union employees. And I don't think I'm telling anybody how to lead their lives. I merely point out the obvious - if you don't like your job, quit or stop complaining.
  • by Don't Need Your Permission to Live Here Location: civilization on Feb 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM
    So Below Average Joe, where are you working? You seem to have a lot of spare time to tell strangers how to live their lives. Are you perhaps collecting an SSI check from our socialist American government?
  • by Average Joe Location: FL on Feb 25, 2011 at 07:42 AM
    To Deputy Sheriff - Again, I repeat. If you don't like your job, go get a new one. Somebody will fill the one you vacated. I am absolutely sure of that.
  • by Hannah on Feb 25, 2011 at 06:33 AM
    $5.00 a gallon for gas. Apparently, Rick Scott doesn't realize, or care, that the bullet train not only would create jobs in central Florida, it would also help reduce our dependance on foreign oil. get to work? Right.
  • by Long hard look at things on Feb 25, 2011 at 05:34 AM
    Here is the website Scott has set up to show where his cuts will be. http://letsgettowork.state.fl.us/ Notice who is not taking a cut in employees and only a 6,000.00 cut in spending. My suggestions, cut pay of upper management, cut out or reduce middle management. Require them to pay health insurance, require the legislative branch to also pay for health insurance. I would gladly pay into retirement because the SSI I have been paying into for the past 30 years will not help much at all. For every private sector business, do you think you are immune to all of these cuts?? AND FIRST AND FOREMOST WHO DO YOU THINK WILL DO THE JOBS STATE WORKERS DO FOR LESS? This question has been asked over and over again with no response..........what other "big business" are coming to Florida? And lastly for you private sector people, the place you work....are they hiring please let me know something!
  • by Walmart on Feb 25, 2011 at 05:26 AM
    Rick scot, be careful what you say about Walmart! Walmart is BIGGER that the state of Florida... Walmart has MORE MONEY then the state of Florida... and Walmart has MUCH MORE POLITICAL CLOUT then you, rick scott. So be very careful when you start bad mouthing Walmart now!
  • by if Location: nf on Feb 25, 2011 at 05:25 AM
    to former state employee;if the private sector has doubled your pay and the benifits are better.why then are state workers staying on these low paying jobs with less benfits i do not understand.if this is true all these people should quit these jobs now and go to the private sector! their are many people in the private sector making 20,000.00 per year with no retirement or sick leave given them, that are paying taxes thats paying for these state benifits. with all these skills they should have no problems getting a job in the private sector like you did good luck.
  • by Deputy Sheriff on Feb 24, 2011 at 09:00 PM
    To Average Joe, next time your in trouble don't call your uneducated deputy or police officer. Call your private sector employee who got a better job. If I lose 5% to pension contribution it would pay me to relocate to another state. Oh yeah we only make 30K per year not 75K. Rick Scott sure as hell won't ever get my vote again.
  • by Kenny Location: Tallahasee on Feb 24, 2011 at 08:57 PM
    Don't worry about Mr. Scott the gas prices will stop everything anyway; here we come $5 dollars per gallon in gas and we will be back in the red!!!
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