WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Governor Rick Scott is pitching the idea that more with less is possible in the Sunshine State. He believes more business growth will occur with less taxation and regulation. He thinks student academic performance can improve even with less money being spent in Florida classrooms. Now he has to convince the critics.
Scott sat down with NewsChannel 5 reporter Michael Williams Monday at WPTV studios in West Palm Beach, part of a series of statewide media interviews following the conclusion of the legislative session.
Environmentalists complain GOP lawmakers have rolled back decades of growth management laws meant to control sprawl. They argue state laws meant to insure that developers pay impact fees for schools, roads and other infrastructure are badly weakened now. Governor Scott argues otherwise. He said, "You will decide that in your community. I mean those decisions shouldn't be made in Tallahassee. You will decide on those issues in your community."
Scott also argues that tying teacher pay to student performance in the future will be a big boost for classrooms even though there is scant money now to offer more resources for those classrooms. In fact more than two billion dollars got carved out of the state education budget. Educators complain they are facing their toughest challenges in decades.
Teachers, police and other middle class state workers also must absorb what amounts to a three percent pay cut. That is money they must pay toward their pensions for the first time ever. The move could save a projected one billion dollars. Meanwhile, Scott and GOP lawmakers managed to find about $60 million in corporate tax cuts. Scott dismisses criticism that the state's budget is balanced on the middle class. He argued, "We have a million people out of work. If we don't make this the state business people want to do business in, we'll never have the money to do this (improve economy). So we have to reduce taxes."