Scott warns of complacency with Florida's economy

Dusty Ricketts
Gov. Rick Scott addresses the audience at the Gulf Power Symposium at Sandestin on Tuesday.

Florida is winning, according to Gov. Rick Scott.

In the four years and eight months he has been in office, Florida has added 940,000 private sector jobs, cut taxes on 50 occasions and eliminated 3,200 regulations. However, comparing the state to a business that does gangbusters and then falls off, Scott said there’s no guarantee that Florida’s growth will continue.

“Why do they fall off? They get complacent,” he said. “They don’t keep holding themselves accountable. They don’t keep measuring, they don’t keep ranking themselves.”

“We’ve got to have ridiculous expectations and we have to go after them,” Scott said. “... If we ever get complacent, this will go away. If you elect the wrong people, it will go away. If we don’t get involved in the process, it will go away.”

Scott was the opening speaker for the second and final day of the 19th annual Gulf Power Economic Symposium on Tuesday.

One thing Florida can do to keep bringing new jobs into the state is to continue to reduce the cost of government. Scott said state and local governments have to continue to find ways to be more efficient every year, adding that as the population grows the average taxes each family pays should go down.

The average state tax Florida is $1,700 a year, Scott said, the lowest in the country. He added that that number should never go up.

“I’ve never been in business to say I was No. 2. I always wanted to be No. 1,” Scott said. “Well, you can’t be No. 1 with higher taxes. You can’t be No.1 with more regulation. You can’t be No. 1 with more litigation. You can’t be No. 1 with a bad business attitude. If you want jobs, you’ve got to figure out a way to make that ... less expensive.”

While Scott advocated for lower taxes, he also pushed for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, to receive more state funding. Scott said the state Legislature didn’t fully fund Enterprise Florida for this year and that the organization does not have as much money available to bring new businesses into the state as other nearby states.

Scott urged the roughly 500 people who attended Tuesday’s symposium to contact their House members and Senators to tell them to support funding Enterprise Florida.

Scott has a little more than three years left in office. He said his goal for the end of his second term is to have people demanding to live in Florida, knowing they will have access to great schools, will be able to find a job and live in a safe community.

“If that’s true when I get out of this job, then I did my job for each and every family in the state,” Scott said.