Talking about the future and reminding the audience of his past, Rick Scott appeared one last time as Florida’s governor at the annual Associated Press planning session at the Capitol.
Scott did not present a proposed state budget Thursday, as he has at previous AP events, but began with a recap of recent hurricane recovery, then a synopsis of his seven years as the state’s chief executive: Employment up, debt down, for example.
“A lot of people forget where we were when I ran in 2010,” he said. Since then, he’s reduced taxes 75 times, he said. He’s term-limited as governor next year.
Scott also teased some details of his state spending proposal for 2018-19, including $10 million for Department of Children and Families abuse investigators and $198 million for adoption subsidies.
He said he was confident the state has enough money without having to dip into any rainy-day funds, even after all the costs associated with Hurricane Irma.
“We have the revenue … It all comes down to how you allocate the dollars,” he said, adding “I will spend every dime I can to protect lives.”
On the environment, he’ll ask for $1.7 billion in funding, including $355 million for the Everglades, $100 million for beach restoration, and $50 million for state parks.
Scott also wants $50 million for repairs to the dike at Lake Okeechobee: “We cannot afford another (Hurricane) Irma coming up” to the lake, he said.
He added, in response to a question, that he will not seek the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association (he’s vice chair), saying “I’m sure somebody (else) will step up.” Scott, a Naples Republican, is widely expected to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for his seat in 2018.