Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Has Gov. Rick Scott seen the light? Or the polls?

There's nothing wrong with this state that a yearly governor's race couldn't solve.

Oh, sure, it would be disruptive — costly, time-consuming and counterproductive, too.

On the other hand, it could almost make Rick Scott seem pleasant.

Yes, our panderer-in-chief has behaved like a different man with an election looming before him. He still hides and still distorts, but his familiar zealotry has been toned down to a more moderate level.

Almost as if he knows you might be paying attention.

This doesn't mean he has completely abandoned his core, and it doesn't mean Scott won't return to nuttyville if re-elected, but it has been fascinating to watch his sly meander toward the middle.

Think about the stances he has taken this year, and compare them to his first few years in office.


Then: The original Rick Scott didn't believe in man-made climate change. Environmental regulations and pollution-control laws were pain-in-the-butt ideas dreamed up by tree-huggers to hinder the heroic money-makers who run corporations. Greenhouse gas emission policies were rolled back by the Legislature with Scott's approval, and he appointed as head of the Department of Environmental Protection a former shipyard executive who used to feud with environmental regulators.

Now: Scott no longer talks about climate change, but says he's happy to have his staff meet with scientists about it. He pledged a $1 billion investment in Florida's waters Monday, and called for increased sanctions on polluters.


Then: As a new governor in 2011, Scott turned his first budget-signing into tea party theater. The ceremony was held at the Central Florida retirement mecca the Villages, and his staff had cops remove Democratic protesters so Scott could brag about cutting $615 million in "shortsighted, frivolous, wasteful spending'' in peace.

Now: Scott's latest budget was the largest in state history, and he cut a mere $69 million in those special legislative projects he once loathed.


Then: Scott once suggested Florida duplicate Arizona's extreme immigration policies. On his first day in office, he signed an order requiring all state workers be checked by the E-Verify computer system to confirm they were legal residents.

Now: Scott lobbied the Senate to pass legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition rates at universities. When the bill passed, Scott signed it in private over a weekend, which kept publicity at a minimum.

Education funds

Then: Scott slashed $1.3 billion from the education budget in 2011 and approved $300 million in cuts to higher education the next year. In his first three years in office, traditional public schools got nothing for capital improvements while charter schools, often run by for-profit corporations, got $200 million.

Now: Scott's office is touting a record amount of spending for public schools in Florida this year. And after being shut out since 2010, public schools were given more money than charters for repairs.

So does this mean Scott is evolving? Has he seen the value in compromise?

Or is this simply a politician panicking before election day?

Yeah, that's sort of what I thought, too.

Romano: Has Gov. Rick Scott seen the light? Or the polls? 08/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 8:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey


    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign


    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half



    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.