Gov. Rick Scott talks investors, state funding with Moffitt Cancer Center officials
Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, joined Gov. Rick Scott on a tour of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa on Thursday. If you remember, House Speaker Dean Cannon yanked Grant from a leadership post during the 2011 session after he broke ranks with party leadership and voted against a sweep of a $50 million Biomedical Trust Fund funded by a cigarette sales tax. The sweep would have cost Moffitt $10 million. In a compromise with the Senate, the final budget left $25 million in the fund, and Moffitt received $5 million, half of its previous year's allotment.
Scott seemed genuinely surprised when Moffitt CEO Bill Dalton, while visiting a Moffitt research lab, told the governor how much state funding the center has lost.
"You mean the Legislature cut your funding by 50 percent?" he asked.
At the end of the tour, Scott said he wanted to better understand the funding issues, describing Moffitt as a tremendous asset for the state, because of the lives the center saves and the jobs it creates.
"It's clearly important that we make sure Moffitt gets adequate funding," he said. "I've got to understand what makes sense, because so far no one's come to my office and said, 'Gosh, I think you ought to cut something.' They always come to me with ideas for spending more money. And taxpayers, in contrast, don't want me to spend more money."
Scott asked numerous questions of Dalton and Cathy Kerzner, CEO of M2Gen, one of several companies created by Moffitt to apply research findings to patient care. He seemed particularly interested in how aggressively the two were seeking outside investors, and what type of equity they would be willing to give investors. He advised them to never give up too much control, and talked about striking a balance between pressure from investors to produce results and taking care to run a company well.
He told Kerzner: "I have plenty of friends who are interested in investing in these things."
Later, Kerzner said: "If he doesn't think I'm going to call him, he's crazy. He offered twice."