Florida's governor-elect Rick Scott promised change only an outsider could bring in his campaign. Although he's yet to take office, he's already sending shockwaves through Tallahassee, but his ambitious agenda could make a short honeymoon.
“Let's get to work!”
For Rick Scott, the work of transforming Florida government is already well underway.
The hard-charging former health care executive is arriving in Tallahassee with a stack of pink slips. Scores of career employees in the governor's office and other agencies are being told their services are no longer needed. Why?
Well, no reason beyond Scott’s pledge to revamp the capitol from the inside out.
“This state is 45th out of 50 states in the country as far as regulation,” Scott said. “All that does is impact people's ability to get jobs, and that's, whether it's all of us as individuals or our kids or our grandkids - we have got to change that.”
In assuming command, Scott’s also making some big assumptions about state government, a bureaucracy he knew little about before his election. The question now – could being bold do more harm than good?
Critics say many of the workers on the chopping block have decades of experience Scott could have used to get things done. Then there's a plan by his transition team to take the departments of environmental protection, transportation and community affairs and combine them to form a giant, pro-development 'Department of Growth Leadership'. Environmentalist eric draper calls it a recipe for failure.
“What does planning and building roads have to do with making sure that our air and water is clean?” asked Eric Draper, Audubon of Florida. “It doesn't really make any sense; it doesn't really go together. So, I'm not sure these ideas are going to work.”
They also require legislative approval. Generally a governor's political standing is at its peak just after he's inaugurated, but Scott's early moves are creating enemies that could make his early days in office a lot more difficult than he bargained for.
Scott's advisors also propose consolidating Florida’s health agencies, saying they're doing a mediocre job and need to be reformed.