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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cabinet meeting in the Keys for first time in a long time

For the first time in a long time, a state Cabinet meeting was held in the Florida Keys – and at a school: Stanley Switlik Elementary School in Marathon, a small town in the Middle Keys.

Not much official business took place during the public two-hour meeting Tuesday morning. Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and CFO Jeff Atwater approved several bonds for college dorms for Florida International University, University of Florida and Florida A&M and they approved an updated emergency hurricane shelter plan.

The Cabinet also approved $50 million for wasterwater treatment facilities in the Keys, part of a $200 million grant that had been authorized in 2009 but not allocated until it was a line-item that survived in the recent state budget. Scott said it was the right thing to do for the environment.

Officials in the Keys also helped convince him with statistics that the funding would create 1,100 jobs for four years.

The large crowd in the school cafeteria cheered for the funding that will go to wastewater projects in Islamorada and the Cudjoe Key area, with the goal of improving water quality in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“It’s the most popular sewer line ever,” Atwater said.

Bondi left midway during the meeting to be with her stepson, who had a fall and was having surgery.

Gov. Scott toured the elementary school where first-graders drilled him with questions. Do you know the president? How big is your office? And how old are you?

Scott’s schedule for the afternoon included an outing on the water where he will release a sea turtle rehabilitated at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. But he’s not the first governor to do so. Gov. Charlie Crist also helped release one of the marine creatures while he was in office.

Gov. Scott on appealing state employee drug testing that was ruled unconstitutional: “As you know, every voter wants to have their government be having an efficient, effective workforce. It’s no different than the private sector. As you know, the private sector drug screens and they do it because they want to have effective employees and efficient employees. I believe the same thing for state workers. It’s the right thing to be doing for your tax dollars. It’s a good use of your tax money to make sure we’re productive."

Gov. Scott on Citizens Property Insurance reducing number of policies: “I’m not sure how much smaller Citizens can get. But here’s the position Citizens is in now. They have over $500 billion worth of risk, with less than $10 billion worth of surplus. So that’s a lot of risk and I think one of the most important things homeowners want is if there ever is a disaster that their insurance company is going to be able to pay the bill.”

-- Cammy Clark, Miami Herald

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 4:05pm]


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