Ann Scott and the girl with the dragon tattoo
Mike Haridopolos should thank Rick Scott

Rick Scott and Florida's checkbook

"The first thing you have to do is get control of the checkbook."

That may be the most telling thing Gov. Rick Scott said during a meeting with reporters and editors last week on the 22nd floor of the Capitol.

At that moment, a number of folks in the room seemed more concerned about their access to the governor than what he would actually do about governing.

Scott promised to be accessible and open.  His record, so far, is uneven but even some of the most senior Tallahassee reporters agree that Scott may just need a bit more time to adjust to the demands of Floridians' vigorous insistence on their right to know.

Scott is inclined to give short and to-the-point answers. Wearing black cowboy boots, Scott sometimes seemed like an indulgent parent giving sparse answers to kids who really don't understand their own questions.

He certainly didn't go out of his way to soothe the media gathering when he was asked if he reads the press about him.


As we said, short and to the point.

He did acknowledge getting a press briefing from his staff each day and noted that his wife Ann reads the newspapers.

But back to the checkbook.

Scott, who made his fortune by acquiring hospitals and turning Columbia/HCA into the largest hospital organization in the United States, apparently sees Florida as another acquistion.

One, like many of the hospitals he purchased, that is bloated, wastes money and fails to use best business practices.

"The first thing you have to do is get control of the the checkbook."

Scott talks about having his team go over the Florida budget "line-by-line."

And he appears to mean it.

He questions Florida's system for selecting vendors. He wonders alouds whether the state bureaucracy can make the necessary changes. He is convinced that he can make government leaner but not less effective.

And Scott does not dodge the fact that the budget he will soon propose might not be greeted joyfully by Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon.

If they doubt Scott's ability to cut the budget by $3.62 billion - the current estimated shortfall - and at the same time cut corporate and property taxes, Scott is unfazed.

"I'm going to put out a budget and then show them how to do it," he said.

Scott frequently says Florida's existing budget is "bloated" - a statement that drew groans of protest from former Senate President Jeff Atwater, now Florida Chief Financial Officer.

Scott even questions the need for overseas trade missions unless there is a measurable return on the investment.

"We're not here to solve every problem, we're here to make life better," said Scott.

And for Scott that means taking a sharp pencil to the state's checkbook.

It is an effort fraught with political peril. But Scott offers this answer to his detractors.

"I was really clear about what I would do if I got elected."

Art by Brian J. Crowley - Chicago based illustrator, graphic designer and author/artist for the comic Hamster Rage.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.