TAMPA — Some of the area's union leaders issued a performance evaluation Wednesday for Gov. Rick Scott's first 100 days in office.
In what may not be a surprise, the grades were not good.
Rating him in four categories, from judgment and leadership to "demonstrates integrity," the report card rated Scott with an "unsatisfactory performance."
It faulted him for rising unemployment, proposed cuts to the state's work force and changes to employment benefits that they equated to an income tax for teachers, firefighters, police and other public employees.
Officials from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations were especially critical of Scott's rejection of $2.4 billion in federal money for high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando.
"That was one chance he had to bring a lot of jobs here," said Aaron Carmella, Zone 3 coordinator of the AFL-CIO, saying the decision contradicted Scott's pledge to create 700,000 jobs in seven years.
The union leaders were joined by three residents from the area who are weathering long-term unemployment: an electrician, a civil engineer and a woman who ran a home-based business. Jean Wilson, 55, the civil engineer, described losing her job with the firm Camp Dresser & McKee in February 2009 when a client cut back business.
These many months later, she has exhausted unemployment payments, is upside down on her mortgage and is spending the last of her retirement savings while caring for her cancer-stricken mom. For every job opening she finds, Wilson said, she's regularly competing against 100 or more applicants.
She and the others said high-speed rail, which some estimated could create 25,000 jobs, had offered them hope that they might at last land work.
"I'm not sure what my future holds," she said.
A spokesman for the governor said Wednesday that his job is to help get legislation passed and "we're still in the middle of that process." He said Scott has put forward proposals that include tax cuts, reducing the size of government and holding agencies accountable to create a more inviting business climate.
"What we're doing will not necessarily have an immediate payoff," said Lane Wright, press secretary for the Governor's Office. "People need to take a long-term view of this.
"He is creating an environment that will attract more business to the state long-term."