Rick Scott meets with Tampa Bay lawmakers; says job seekers are "hustling every day"
A week away from being sworn in as Florida's 45th governor, Rick Scott brought his boardroom brand of politics to Tampa Bay today, meeting with 16 lawmakers from Pinellas and Hillsborough. The meeting seemed to go like others around the state, with lawmakers giving broad priorities and Scott calmly taking notes.
Hanging over the upcoming session will be an expected $3.5 billion shortfall in the state budget. Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, tempered the discussion by bringing up the figure: “If anyone thinks that’s going to be a small task, they’re wrong,” he said. “All of the things we’d like to do to make Florida a better place to work are going to be overshadowed by that shortfall.”
Neither Scott nor lawmakers provided much specifics on how they plan to close the budget gap. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Scott listed three areas where he will look for savings: Medicaid, the Department of Corrections and state purchasing guidelines. He will submit a detailed budget to lawmakers in February. (Check out our full writeup of the meeting here.)
Scott has already faced heat for a report by his transition team that recommends cutting of unemployment checks for people who don’t work hard enough to find a job. An economics professor at Princeton University has been critical of the report, saying it misinterpreted an unemployment study he did.
Scott initially said he had not seen the Princeton study and couldn’t comment on it. Pressed by a reporter, he said, “I think people are looking for jobs. They’re out there hustling every day.”