By Joe Gruters
Gov. Rick Scott is once again modeling how good, responsible government works.
The improving state economy, despite fighting the headwinds of an anemic national economy, will mean billions more dollars flowing into Tallahassee’s coffers for next year. The way government and politicians normally work, that happy news would mean turning the spending spigot wide open and spending all that new money before it’s collected.
That’s how politicians create popularity for themselves, making sure bridges and roads and other spending goodies are doled out in their districts. But that is also how government gets fat and sloppy and wasteful. There is no incentive to improve efficiencies and be careful with the taxpayers’ money because more keeps pumping in.
But thankfully that is not the way Scott operates coming from a hugely successful private sector career.
Scott is tasking each department in state government to find areas to cut back to save $100 million from existing operations. It is purposeful pressure to create efficiencies and save taxpayer’s money, even if it does not buy friends. Government-watchers find this type of thinking bizarre. Private-sector folks do not.
“Every agency should be able to find efficiencies,” Scott told The Florida Current. “We’ll do the same thing. We’ll review every contract, we’ll look at office space, we’ll look at all the services we buy, we’ll look at can we help our employees become more efficient in what they do every day.”
Scott is doing exactly what he promised to do and Floridians elected him to do. And he is doing it effectively.
Total state debt has fallen $3.5 billion since Scott took office, while new debt has declined from more than $6 billion in the two years before Scott was sworn in to less than $1.5 billion after his first two years in office.
Further, Scott says he does not want the state to incur any new debt in road building, land buying or school building without “specific and accountable returns on investment for taxpayers.” Basically, you have to make the case, not just want it.
That is not an unreasonable bar when spending other people’s money, which is what government does. And that is fiscal discipline that was sorely lacking in his predecessor, Charlie Crist, who while a Democrat now, spent taxpayer money like a Democrat all along.
Let’s remember that a big part of the reason for the new money flowing into the state coffers is because of Scott’s ceaseless efforts to make the state more attractive to outside companies to move here and more competitive for existing companies to start up and grow here. Those efforts have resulted in 365,000 private-sector jobs gained since he took office.
But more needs to be done. To that end, Scott is planning to cut taxes by another $500 million. The specifics are not out yet, but we can be sure they will be cuts to make the state more competitive.
The more competitive the state is, the stronger the economy will be, the more jobs will be created and the more taxes will flow into Tallahassee.
And that is how good government works for everyone.
Thanks for being informed and engaged.