BRANDON — Gov. Rick Scott discussed statewide transportation policies during a campaign stop Wednesday morning, but made no mention of the ongoing debates on both sides of Tampa Bay over potential sales taxes to help pay for local transportation projects including rail.
The stop at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce was part of Scott's "Let's Keep Florida Moving" tour, which highlights transportation policies, including investments in Florida's airports, seaports, road networks and space industry.
Many of his comments were directed at statewide initiatives, but the Republican governor did reference a couple of local plans, including the testing of driverless cars on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and expansion of Tampa International Airport.
"Our airports are a $114 billion economy by themselves," Scott said. This year, "we're going to spend about $325 million to expand our airports. Part of it will be spent right here in Tampa."
Scott was joined by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover, and Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, who expanded on how the policies would effect the Brandon area.
"I was really, really excited when we were able to fully fund all pending (Department of Transportation) projects in the state of Florida," Spano said. "We've been able to complete the 301 widening, and we've been able to complete the MLK Jr. widening. We've just got to work, on a local standpoint, on our east-west corridors."
Scott did not speak about tax-for-transportation initiatives currently on the minds of local politicians and voters. Pinellas County voters will decide in November whether to approve an additional 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects. Hillsborough County officials are debating whether to call for a similar referendum, perhaps in 2016.
In the midst of shaking hands and taking photos Wednesday, Scott partook in a brief media session where he discussed education, jobs and a meeting he had Tuesday with climate scientists.
"What I wanted to talk to them about was not causation so much as solutions," Scott said. "I'm a solutions person. …They're like a lot of people, they're concerned about our future, so they came forward with ideas."
Initially, Scott said that his staff would meet with the scientists, but then agreed to personally meet with them after former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democratic candidate for governor, announced his own meeting with the experts.
Scott did not say Wednesday whether the conversation changed his views, but said he was appreciative of the scientists.
Contact Caitlin Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2443. Follow @cljohnst.