Make us your home page
Instagram

Rick Scott must sell, not order, many ideas on his list of proposals

TALLAHASSEE — Gov.-elect Rick Scott says it won't be business as usual when he takes the reins of the state's highest office on Jan. 4, and if he adopts the giant to-do list from the six groups on his transition team, there may be no doubt he has kept his promise.

The wide-ranging list of recommendations covers everything from considering the sale of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami to giving universal vouchers to all parents to send their children to private schools.

The ideas contemplate merging more than a dozen state agencies into two or three departments, raising residential electricity rates in exchange for lower commercial rates, privatizing the state's mental health facilities, punishing the unemployed for spending too little time hunting for jobs, and even identifying a private-sector employee to run the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Depending on the suggestions, Scott may adopt many of the proposals himself after he takes office, such as creating a ''chief reform officer'' inside the executive office of the governor. But most of the ideas will require legislative or federal approval, budget changes and, in the case of universal vouchers, a possible amendment to the state Constitution. As a result, Scott supporters are urging the new governor to read the recommendations carefully and move methodically before asking lawmakers for approval and support.

Scott is being advised by six transition groups, covering rules and regulations, prisons and legal affairs, economic development, job creation, education and administrative changes.

''Some of these sound like common-sense ideas and others are going back to the past where things didn't work,'' said Sen. Paula Dockery, a Lakeland Republican and one of two legislators on Scott's transition team. ''After a thorough debate, the Legislature will view some of them positively but will view some of them with great caution.''

For example, a proposal to merge the Department of Community Affairs (the state's growth management agency) with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Regulation would create a cumbersome bureaucracy that might cause more problems than it solves, Dockery said.

''The governor will restructure a little bit of government, but I don't think we'll see all these massive reforms,'' she said, noting that lawmakers ''still have some institutional memory left in the Legislature. Term limits didn't take it all away.''

Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican who is heading the Senate's Medicaid reform effort, said he agrees with the transition team that reforming the way the state delivers and pays for Medicaid should be a top priority for the next governor. But, while Negron believes ''there are some innovative ideas in the report,'' he's not exactly ready to adopt them.

''We're in the process of writing the Senate bill now and we started from scratch — with a blank sheet of paper,'' he said.

Another economic development proposal offers to save businesses $3.25 billion a year on their electric bills by offering corporations that agree to relocate to Florida or expand businesses already here a special ''economic development'' rate. The challenge would be to convince legislators, since in exchange for luring jobs, they might see their constituents' utility bills increase.

Legislators may resist many of the reforms proposed by the transition teams if Scott doesn't manage his proposals carefully, warned Dominic Calabro, director of TaxWatch, a business-backed research group.

''Historically, agency consolidations cost more money than they saved,'' he said. ''But times are different and this governor understands consolidations.''

Nevertheless, Scott must be patient if he wants to enact big changes, Calabro said. Former Gov. Jeb Bush had one of the most accommodating legislatures in history and it still took him more than a couple of sessions to get his education and civil service reforms through.

''The Legislature is almost designed not to change radically,'' Calabro said. ''We probably won't get everything done in the first legislative session, but we'll make a tremendous amount of progress.''

Resistance has already started from interest groups determined to protect their regulatory turf. Florida Medical Association senior vice president Tim Stapleton, for example, said doctors don't like the transition team's idea of merging the department that regulates doctors with the agencies that regulate hospitals or serve the disabled and elderly.

''The FMA feels strongly that the chief medical officer of the state of Florida should report directly to the governor,'' he said. ''This is a public safety concern and the governor must have a medical doctor advising him of these issues rather than another government bureaucrat.''

The transition reports are loaded with business metaphors that cater to Scott's business background and urge him to ''restructure the company'' and ''rebrand'' its assets. Growth management, for example, should be called ''growth leadership.'' That approach will make sense if Scott remembers that while he's the chief executive, legislators are not his staff, said Ken Plante, a Tallahassee lobbyist and former Republican Senate leader who served as Bush's first legislative liaison.

''He should view the Legislature as a board of directors elected solely by stockholders who are not beholden for their job to the governor,'' he said. ''They want to work with him but they are independently elected.''

Scott's press office said he met with the 200 members of his transition teams in closed-door meetings in Fort Lauderdale last week and ''will consider all of the recommendations presented.'' But neither the governor-elect nor his staff would comment on whether they consider the ideas wish lists — or to-do lists.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@miamiherald.com.

Rick Scott must sell, not order, many ideas on his list of proposals 12/26/10 [Last modified: Sunday, December 26, 2010 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]