Scott Wants to be Known as 'Jobs Governor'

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

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, Dec. 17, 2010 --

If Gov. Charlie Crist is the self-proclaimed “people’s governor,” Gov.-elect Rick Scott wants to be known as Florida’s “jobs governor.”

He got another reminder this week that he’ll have to be when it was announced that Florida's unemployment rate inched up in November to 12 percent, despite seasonal jumps in tourism, healthcare and retail hiring.

All those people not working gave Florida another number this week - $3.5 billion. That’s going to be the shortfall in the budget, since not enough people are paying enough taxes to pay for everything the state spent money on this year, economists said early this week.

The state Scott will get for Christmas – or more accurately, just after – continues to be mired by slow construction and lackluster real estate markets that will make it a bit of a blue Christmas without much green.

The jobless rate, up from 11.9 percent in October and a bit higher than last November’s figure, puts the state back where it began the year, before most people had ever heard of their next governor. It comes as business groups prepare to pay higher unemployment compensation taxes beginning next year, yet another thing keeping them from taking the advice of the let’s get to work governor-elect.

The economic lump of coal was not lost on the soon-to-be 45th governor of Florida, who called the high jobless rate “inexcusable.”

Scott said having 12 percent in the 12th month of the year made the case for doing what he and other Republicans have made clear they want to do anyway: shrinking the size of state government.

"In order to turn Florida's economy around, we need to put jobs first and make sure all government expenditures are justified," Scott said in a statement. "As the 'Jobs Governor', I have already begun meeting with Floridians to identify opportunities for job growth, and I am committed to getting Florida back to work by making Florida the best place to do business."

Curiously, there was not much reaction to the week ending unemployment news from the relentlessly optimistic outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist. It did not go unnoticed by Crist’s critics that unemployment was less than four percent when he took office four years ago. These days, a four percentage point drop would still leave the rate double that figure.

However, most economic observers weren’t surprised that 2011 would begin on a down note, economically.

"There are still organizations, and businesses that are withholding spending or hiring based on a lack of stability and what future costs are expected be, whether that's health care or higher taxes," Florida Retail Federation President Rick McAllister said this week.

Luckily perhaps for the 12 percent of the Florida population who are no doubt hoping Scott can actually get them to work, Congress approved an $858 billion package of tax credits on income, investments, and estate transfers late this week that includes an extension of unemployment benefits to millions of workers as part of a compromise to keep the national recovery on track.

The news came right on time for Floridians whose benefits were about to be exhausted. It also came as Scott went to the capitol to be briefed on the sagging state budget, where the shortfall hit grew this week as analysts dialed-back the state's revenue forecast.

Collections were down this year $585.7 million, the number crunchers said, and next year’s will be even worse, to the tune of $612.2 million, with sales-tax and corporate income tax declines leading the retreat. Reserves are available to patch this year's reduction, although once they do, the state's rainy day fund will be basically dry: a meager $249 million.

That could pour water on Scott’s plans to cut $1.4 billion in property taxes and eliminate the corporate income tax, but a spokesman for the eager-to-get-to-work governor-elect said he wouldn’t shelve the plans.

“He's looking at all options," said Trey Stapleton of Scott's transition office. "But if you make a commitment in the campaign, you stand by it."

The 12 percent of Floridians who are out of work are no doubt hoping the same is true of Scott’s pledge to create 700,000 jobs in his first term.

For more on this story, please see
Florida Unemployment Rises to 12 Percent
.


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  • by Get to Work.. Who? on Dec 22, 2010 at 12:26 PM
    Transition team headed by a Washington, D.C.-based corporate lawyer. Actively recruiting job candidates through Gerson Group, a New York-based headhunter firm. Tour of Florida businesses filmed by California production team. Sooo ummm yeah...Let's get to work Florida?
  • by Anonymous on Dec 21, 2010 at 05:47 AM
    Elizabeth - this is Anonymous. I am a state employee. I see all of the duplicates. I am middle management and there are those above me that could be cut and positions combined. I have open positions under me that I purposefully have not filled because they are not needed and I don't believe in filling a position just to fill it. If it isn't needed then I don't hire. I could personally provide a list for the chopping block. We have some doing the work of 3 people and we have some 5 people doing the work of less than one person. I realize we have not seen a raise, I personally haven't seen an increase either. The private sector isn't seeing it either, so I am not complaining. I have adjusted my spending and have actually made my small paycheck go much further. I get sick of my fellow state employees always complaining and always acting like they are entitled, they are not. We work for the citizens. And, just an FYI, I am out of town on holiday right now.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 20, 2010 at 10:25 PM
    obummer obama is not a magician. if mccain would have won we would still be in the same state.since you think obama is doing such a bad job why dont you run and lets see how you do as president. its gonna take more than 2 4 or 6 years for this country to bounce back. if obama isnt president in 2012, oh well, he has made history(whether good or bad) but will you be remembered in a 100 yrs NO. so just let the man do his job(whether he succeeds or fails).
  • by Anonymous on Dec 20, 2010 at 06:07 PM
    Robin Goodfellow's brother, Please tell us what jobs were created.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 20, 2010 at 04:22 PM
    The Governor-to-be`s Public Relations staff has the wrong message comming out. Does anyone else see this as"cart before the horse"? You get a name, reputation after you have been in office or before the end to describe what you put most of your efforts into - not before you start the job. He can call himself the King of Florida and then the public will have a reason to bring him up on federal charges as no citizen in the U.S is allowed royal status as a ruling monarch.
  • by Obummer Location: White House on Dec 20, 2010 at 04:20 PM
    He needs to do alot of firing with the state. There are too many worthless divisions with alot of worthless people working there. They can all move to Gadsden County where people don't have to work.
  • by steve Location: tall on Dec 20, 2010 at 01:51 PM
    how about creating some jobs that will clean up our water here in Tallahassee. If you haven't heard, we are way up the list as having hexavalent chromium (think Erin Brochavich) in our water. And since I have lived here (1987) I have always heard about our "quality water"
  • by Robin Goodfellow's brother on Dec 20, 2010 at 01:46 PM
    "he can teach Obummer how to create jobs" - another moronic statement uttered by another ignorant moron. Jobs have been created. How about let's count the jobs that GEORGE W. BUSH cost this country? All so his rich friends could get richer. Yeah, those rich people that got the BIG tax break - they created a lot of jobs under Bush's regime - yeah, sure they did - bet they'll create even more now that the childish republicans got their way - again. Just how stupid are you people????
  • by Anonymous on Dec 20, 2010 at 12:49 PM
    Scott will not be able to create any real jobs. The government doesn't create jobs. He has to create the business environment that allows businesses to create the jobs. In order to do this it will look like he is pandering to big business, and I don't know if he is willing to do this. Obama definitely will not do this, and that is why our unemployment numbers have remained high for so long.
  • by Elizabeth Location: Tallahassee on Dec 20, 2010 at 11:17 AM
    to anonymous,not only don't you give your name,but do you know anyone whom works for the state?do you read? state employees have NOT gotten a cost of living in FIVE yrs.that means ANONYMOUS if you can read state employees are using a FIVE yr old paycheck to pay TODAY's prices. Can you do that? the state employees I know have two jobs to make ends met. All talk ANONYMOUS and no action on your part
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