Thursday, November 23, 2017
Politics

Gov. Rick Scott's video touts economic growth, lower jobless rate

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Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a high-quality campaign video on his Facebook page Monday called "first time." (Nope, not like Lena Dunham cheekily describing her first time voting for Barack Obama.)

"This is the first time in five years that our unemployment rate has been below the national average," Scott says, "but we're not stopping there."

In the ad, Scott repeats talking points about the poor shape of the economy "in the four years before I became governor" (listening, Charlie Crist?), compared to the state's private-sector growth and declining unemployment rate since he took office.

The scene: A March 18 news conference at Mitsubishi Power Systems in Orlando, where Scott is surrounded by a crew of approving employees in T-shirts and safety goggles as he talks about jobs gains. The unnamed facility manager says "it's unbelievable" how much better shape the state is in these days, and that he has hired 150 new employees. Another man says, "The governor really gets it."

Gone is Scott's 2010 mantra, "Let's get to work." Scott's new slogan is "It's working." The video is hosted at ItsWorkingFlorida.com and paid for by his political committee, Let's Get to Work.

Focus on teacher pay, tax cut

Gov. Scott still isn't saying whether he'll support legislation banning Internet sweepstakes cafes in Florida.

Speaking to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Monday afternoon, Scott said he is waiting to see what the Legislature does before taking a position.

Scott, who took questions for an hour, remained hyper-focused on his two priorities: giving public school teachers a $2,500 pay raise and cutting a sales tax for manufacturers. He also sounded less partisan, talking up relationships with President Obama's Cabinet, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "Arne," as Scott referred to him, called to recommend Tony Bennett as Scott's new education commissioner. Other notes:

Scott made a point to single out what a great job Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, is doing. Twice. He didn't mention Republican St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

On Friday's big Florida vs. Florida Gulf Coast basketball game: "I'd like both those teams to win."

On gay marriage: Scott wouldn't say if he supported a 2008 Florida constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and wouldn't say if he supports the ban now. "It's in the Constitution."

Senate plans for Dozier project

The Florida Senate's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes $200,000 to help University of South Florida researchers identify gravesites on the grounds of the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna.

"This funding is crucial to helping USF analyze the cemetery at the former school," Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said in a news release.

The Florida House also said it will fully fund USF's request, which was for $190,000. And U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has identified a federal grant program that could also assist with the Dozier investigation.

The federal program, run by the Department of Justice, allocates up to $3 million to universities and nonprofits that wish to exhume bodies and identify missing people using DNA technology.

Greer to be sentenced today

Former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer will be sentenced Wednesday in Orlando after pleading guilty last month to theft and money laundering charges that could put him behind bars for 3 ½ years.

Times staff writers Aaron Sharockman and Tia Mitchell contributed.

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