Rick Scott Archives - Page 7 of 217 - Florida Politics

Rick Scott declines to comment on proposal to repeal immigration bill he signed in 2014

Rick Scott is declining to comment on a proposal filed for the 2017 Florida Legislative Session that would repeal a major immigration policy change that he signed into law two years ago.

Last week, Sarasota state Senator Greg Steube filed a bill (SB 82) that would repeal legislation approved by the GOP-led Legislature in 2014 that offers lower in-state tuition rates at Florida state colleges and universities for undocumented immigrants.

Passage of that bill was uncertain until the end of that year’s Session, but was strongly supported by then-House Speaker Will Weatherford and Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala.

“I haven’t seen it,” Scott told this reporter about the bill as he took questions after hosting a news conference at the Florida Highway Patrol offices in Tampa Monday.

“I think there are about 2,000 bills that are being proposed during the session, so as I go through the process if they get to my desk, I’ll review,” he added. “I need to look at the bill.”

The legislation is a political power keg, as are most items concerning immigration. Scott campaigned as tough on immigration in 2010 when first running for governor, getting behind what was then known as an “Arizona-style” immigration proposal that asked suspects stopped by the authorities for proof of their citizenship, similar in nature to the conversion SB 1070 immigration law passed earlier that year in Arizona.

“We need to come up with an immigration policy that works for the country,’’ Scott said in late 2010. “If you’re stopped in our state — no different than if you’re asked for your ID — you should be able to be asked if you’re legal or not,” he told the Miami Herald.

But the Legislature failed to pass that proposal, along with other major immigration bills in the spring of 2011, including a much-discussed E-Verify bill killed by Lake Wales Republican J.D. Alexander.

In addition to giving the undocumented a break on their college tuition payments, the Legislature in 2014 also passed a bill that would allow some undocumented immigrants to obtain law licenses from the Florida Bar.

There has been no companion bill filed in the House, but there is plenty of time for that to happen, with the 2017 Legislative session not commencing until next March. House District 60 Republican Jackie Toledo campaigned during her primary race on a platform to repeal both measures but has not publicly commented on Steube’s bill.

In Tampa, Rick Scott lays out why FHP officers deserve a pay raise

Speaking in the parking lot of the Tampa office of the Florida Dept. of Highway Patrol with about a dozen FHP officers standing behind him, Rick Scott made the case for the Legislature to get behind his proposal to give all sworn law enforcement officers a five percent pay raise in his 2017-2018 budget.

“The brave men and women who serve Florida as members of our state law enforcement agencies work hard everyday to make Florida the safest place to live and raise a family, and they deserve to be rewarded with their live saving work,” said Scott.

The Governor first announced his proposal to allocate $11.7 million for a pay raise for law enforcement officers in a statement issued last Thursday, but this was his first time to speak directly to reporters about it.

Approximately half of the 4,000 officers who would receive the pay hike for Florida Highway Patrol officers who currently have a starting salary of $33,977 a year.

“For us to be able to retain and recruit the best of the best, which is what the citizens of this state deserve, this is going to go a long way in helping this,” said Gene Spaulding, the director of the FHP. “Most of these state officers aren’t doing this job for the money. But we do have a responsibility as administrators for them to be able to take care of their famiiles in a way that they can do so effectively.”

“The governor’s proposal will allow the Fish & Wildlife Commission to more effectively recruit law enforcement and retain those same law enforcement officers to serve the citizens of Florida,” echoed FWC law enforcement director Colonel Curtis Brown.

“This is a very dangerous job. “We’re at an all-time high nationwide for law enforcement officers deaths” said Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “The Governor is always shoulder to shoulder with us, whether it’s a fire emergency, a hurricane response, or an incident like Pulse, he has always been there for us.”

The one law enforcement agency that isn’t included in the pay raise proposal are officers working with the Dept. of Corrections. Scott acknowledged that omission, saying that he’ll continue to look at the budget and “we’ll have additional announcements.”

But he said that he had no qualms that the Legislature should be able to find the money for the pay increases.

“Let’s look at the numbers,” he told reporters after his formal remarks. “We have about 350,000 people move here every year. We have added 1,233,000 jobs in five years and 7 months. We have record tourism numbers so, it’s incumbent upon us to have the legislature allocate those dollars to…focus on keeping people safe and giving them a good education, and then provide the safety nets that are citizens expect.”

At the event, Scott also singled out attention to Trooper Robert Ducker, giving him the Governor’s Medal of Heroism for his “outstanding courage in the face of grave danger.”

While assisting a disabled vehicle, Ducker was notified by a passerby of an accident that had occurred off I-275. Upon arriving at the scene, Trooper Ducker found a single vehicle had crashed into a tree, knocking the driver unconscious and causing the vehicle to catch fire. After unsuccessfully attempting to break the window of the car with a window punch, Ducker used his fist to break through the window, reach the driver and pull them to safety, saving the driver’s life.



Company praised by Rick Scott hasn’t lived up to promises

A company Gov. Rick Scott was praising more than a year ago for creating jobs is now delinquent in its property taxes and has never met its hiring goals.

The Fort Myers News-Press reported Sunday that Altair Training Solutions was supposed to be a multi-million dollar enterprise with facilities in Hendry and Collier counties where it would offer training for law enforcement and military combat personnel.

Altair’s owners, Michelle and Brian Jones, said they would bring 150 jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $62,000, to Hendry County. Back in May 2015, Scott himself visited a company location in Immokalee to highlight the job growth promised by the company.

The newspaper reported the state and county overlooked signs that the company was little more than a pipe dream. They also overlooked the owners’ troubling financial history and that they had no secured contracts necessary to meet $4.5 million in loan obligations.

The Joneses’ short history in Southwest Florida is mired by lawsuits, liens, judgments, several defunct businesses, foreclosures and a bankruptcy. Brian Jones’ military career was embellished in published reports, marketing materials and even by state and local officials, inferring experience in special operations that he lacked.

Altair, which turned to the state and county for incentives, brings in $275,000 a year in revenue and has 20 employees. The newspaper reported that lenders had foreclosed on a $3.7 million property purchased by the company in Hendry County and that the state terminated Altair from a tax incentive program in late 2015.

If Altair met certain goals it was supposed to get refunds from the state for money it paid in income tax, sales tax, property taxes and workers’ compensation insurance premiums. In all, Altair could have qualified for $806,000 in refund payments from the state.

But the Joneses didn’t meet hiring goals and never received tax refunds from the state program, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Michelle Jones paints a different picture of what happened with the state. She said Altair voluntarily left the program because it realized it couldn’t meet the hiring goals

“Not everything goes according to plan,” Michelle Jones told the News-Press.

The Joneses thought they would need employees, but the organizations that use the property for tactical training “bring their own personnel,” she said. “We shifted the business plan a bit. We didn’t want to be in the program.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Rick Scott wants 5% raise for state law-enforcement

Governor Rick Scott announced Thursday that he intended to propose a 5 percent pay raise for all state law enforcement, which would then be voted on early next year by legislature.

Standing with a host of local and state law enforcement officials outside the Florida Highway Patrol office in Orlando, Scott praised law enforcement for their work during an especially trying time – citing that 32 law enforcement officers had been killed so far this year.

He would know, he said, because he had been to all of their funerals.

The pay raise would be a ‘thank you’ to law enforcement for all they do – especially in Florida, what with responding to the Pulse nightclub shooting, Hurricane Matthew and more. There had also been a 45 percent reduction in crime this year as compared to previous years, Scott said.

“Being in law enforcement is only becoming harder,” Scott said. “They face danger each and every day. They are targeted sometimes just for the uniform they wear. I’m proposing a 5 percent pay raise for all state law enforcement officers. They need to be rewarded for their life-saving work. We need to show we appreciate their commitment to us.”

He told the story of Lt. Channing Taylor, who was shot while performing a routine traffic stop, praising Taylor and also awarding him the Governor’s Medal of Honor.

Taylor was honored by the award and excited for the raise.

“It was unexpected,” he told FloridaPolitics.com. “[Scott] really goes above and beyond. He’s a wonderful man.”

Scott will include the $11.7 million request in budget recommendations he’ll give state legislators early next year. The Florida Legislature will consider the pay raise during the regular session that starts in March.

Scott hasn’t made a final decision on whether to recommend pay raises for other state workers, according to The Associated Press.

But while Matt Puckett of the Police Benevolent Association appreciated the gesture, it was just a good starting point, so far as he was concerned.

The real problem, he said, was retention of state law enforcement, and implementing career development plans towards pay increases for them was the best answer he knew of.

“We’re in contract negotiations,” he said. “We proposed an eight percent raise across the board, but five is a good start. But it’s a second piece we’re more concerned with – a big problem is that it’s not hard to get officers on board, but keeping them there is another story.”

He said the problem came when a state officer was content staying in a position he or she liked – say, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who enjoyed their job working a turnpike and had no plans to advance in the ranks or move up.

“The way it is now, that trooper would stay in that job with no pay increase for years,” Puckett said.

That leads some officers to leave for similar careers at local law enforcement levels. Puckett said the Police Benevolent Association is attempting to work career development plans into negotiations with the state.

“We’re trying to implement career development paths for state officers,” he said. “Where, if they do their job well, keep their noses clean, they can see an increase in pay after five to eight years or so. That’s the big difference between state and local law enforcement. So many state officers will say ‘I just can’t afford to raise a family or live my life.’ It’s the number one reason people leave.”

Mitch Perry Report for 12.1.16 — What does Rick Scott and rest of Legislature do with bill repealing in-state tuition rates for the undocumented?

Florida lawmakers have been filing bills this week for the 2017 Legislative Session, and one of the most provocative ones so far is an immigration-related issue from Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube.

As initially reported by the Tampa Bay Times Claire McNeill, Steube would repeal the Jack Latvala-sponsored bill that waives out-of-state fees for undocumented Florida high school students.

“It is certainly a big issue in my district among my constituents, who were frustrated and upset that the state would allow undocumented illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-supported, in-state tuition,” Steube told the Times. “So I think it’s important to file the bill and have a discussion on it.”

During the House District 60 GOP primary in Hillsborough County, Republican Jackie Toledo also campaigned on repealing the law, as well as repealing the measure that would allow some illegal immigrants to obtain law licenses from the Florida Bar. Toledo did not respond to FloridaPolitics’ request for comment on Steube’s bill, including whether she would sponsor a House version of it.

There’s no doubt many Republicans in the Legislature will gladly sign on to the bill. If Donald Trump‘s success in the Republican primaries was about anything regarding public policy, it was about being tough on immigration.

But will Rick Scott back repealing a bill he happily supported two years ago? Cynics would say he got behind it because he didn’t want to alienate Latinos as he ran for re-election in 2014. Well, everyone in the world believes he’ll be challenging Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate in 2018, and Florida is only becoming browner. Such a bill would seem punitive, a reversal of the progress made among those who really, through no fault of their own, are considered to be out of compliance (“illegal” if you prefer) with U.S. law.

In other news …

Tampa City Council District 7 candidates Jim Davison and Luis Viera debated for the first time in a one-on-one matchup on Tuesday night (They also debated last night. You can read a complete report on that coming up shortly).

During that debate, former City Councilman Joe Caetano questioned Viera’s endorsement from current Council Chairman Mike Suarez, a longtime friend.

Lakeland GOP Rep. Dennis Ross is now a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

And instead of moping around after last month’s election debacle, former Florida Democratic Senate candidate Pam Keith is going to Louisiana next week with some fellow D’s to campaign for Senate candidate Foster Campbell.

Joe Henderson: What Democrats missed about Donald Trump, Rick Scott — it’s about jobs

We probably will never know what happened inside Trump Tower recently when Florida Gov. Rick Scott met with the president-elect.

It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if they talked about jobs the entire time.

I mention this because Donald Trump gave a preview this week of what he hopes are coming attractions. He announced that Carrier, the giant air conditioning manufacturer, had agreed to keep about 1,000 jobs in Indiana instead of shipping them to Mexico.

That is straight out of the playbook Scott used to run for governor in 2011, and then to be re-elected to a second term in 2015.

Neither Trump nor Carrier have disclosed details of the deal, but my guess is that none of the affected workers care. That’s where Trump — and Scott — have outfoxed the experts.

Scott has boasted of bringing 1 million jobs to Florida, a claim backed up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Critics say, with some justification, that Scott and Florida benefited from an improving economy throughout the United States.

I’m a big one for giving credit (or blame) when something significant occurs on a governor’s watch. That’s what happened with Scott.

While his campaign had considerably more bombast than Florida’s taciturn governor, Donald Trump campaigned hard on the issue of jobs. He smartly targeted key Midwestern states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and, of course, Indiana.

There, he promised workers who lost manufacturing jobs that he had heard their cry and would do something to help them. The Carrier deal is no doubt an encouraging sign.

There is a long way to go, of course. The Washington Post reported that since 1969, Indiana has lost more than 235,000 manufacturing jobs. More pain may on the way, as several companies have announced intentions to migrate jobs to Mexico.

Reality says that even should Trump be successful in offering incentives for those companies to keep jobs here, they likely won’t pay as well as before. Once again, though, Trump can look at what Scott did.

Critics complained that many of those million-plus jobs the governor claimed credit for creating paid subsistence wages at best. They said his tax and incentives policies created wealth for corporate owners while barely paying workers enough to get by.

What all that missed, though, became the central point of the election — both in Florida and this year in the Rust Belt states. When a person doesn’t have a job, particularly someone in middle-age with kids and mortgage, they solely focus on being employed again.

Democrats missed that.

They missed it in Florida against Scott. They missed again with Trump. So, while Trump’s ridiculous tweet about jailing and stripping the citizenship of anyone who protests by burning the U.S. flag got headlines, his deal with Carrier resonated loudly with the people most responsible for putting him office.

As Rick Scott once said, let’s get to work.

Chris Hart IV selected as Enterprise Florida CEO

A former state lawmaker has been selected to lead Enterprise Florida, a decision that comes as proponents gear up for what could be another difficult year for the public-private economic development agency.

The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors on Wednesday voted unanimously to hire Chris Hart IV as the CEO of Enterprise Florida. Hart, the president and CEO of CareerSource Florida, will start on Jan. 3, and will be paid between $175,000 and $200,000 a year.

“Thank you for your trust. I’ve had the opportunity over the last several weeks to speak to many of you, and it’s been evident the quality of individual we have on the Enterprise Florida board,” said Hart, a former state representative. “I’ve found people are deeply committed to the state of Florida and deeply committed to the prosperity of Floridians.”

In March, Gov. Rick Scott announced then-CEO Bill Johnson was leaving the organization. Johnson was appointed to head the organization in May 2015, after spending 35 years with Miami-Dade County government.

More than 100 people applied for the job. The board narrowed the list to two finalists — Richard Biter, the former assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation, and Mike Finney, the former president of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. — and were poised to appoint a new CEO during the September meeting. But the board suspended the search when Scott postponed individual meetings with candidates because he needed to monitor Hurricane Matthew.

Hart was a late applicant, applying for the job earlier this month. He emerged as the top contender after Finney withdrew from the search, choosing instead to seek a teaching job at the University of Michigan.

“Chris understands the incredible impact a job can have on a family and the need for EFI to make job creation the number one priority,” said Scott in a statement Wednesday. “Every decision EFI makes has to focus on making Florida more competitive so we can continue to create new opportunities in our state. As President and CEO, I know Chris will immediately get to work to return EFI back to its core mission of creating jobs for our families.”

Enterprise Florida has been under a microscope in recent years. A push to set aside $250 million to create the Enterprise Florida trust fund failed during the 2016 legislative session.

In September, Scott announced he would include $85 million in his 2016-17 budget for Enterprise Florida for economic incentives. He also said he plans to push for legislation to restructure the public-private jobs organization.

The decision to once again pursue money for economic incentives puts him at odds with House leadership, which blocked his 2016 attempt to set aside millions for incentives. In June, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said he would lead the charge to end taxpayer funding to the state organization.

Scott noted Hart’s time in the Legislature could be beneficial in the months to come. The governor said Hart has “the knowledge, understanding and relationships with the Florida Legislature- an important partner to growing Florida jobs.”

Blaise Ingoglia rolls out more endorsements in Florida GOP Chair re-election bid

Blaise Ingoglia has received the backing of nearly a dozen Republican members of Congress in his re-election campaign for GOP chairman.

The Spring Hill Republican announced Wednesday that 11 Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation have endorsed his re-election bid.

“The organization Chairman Blaise Ingoglia put in place this past election cycle was crucial in delivering big wins from President-Elect (Donald) Trump and Senator (Marco) Rubio, our Congressional delegation, and the State Senate and State House,” said Rep. Ted Yoho in a statement. “I am proud to support his bid for re-election and with his continued leadership our party will be more than prepared for the 2018 cycle”

The announcement comes just days after Ingoglia, the current chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and a state representative, formally launched his re-election campaign. On Monday, he also rolled out a list of more than 100 grassroots leaders backing his re-election.

In addition to Yoho, Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo, Ron DeSantis, Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross, and Dan Webster endorsed Ingoglia. He also received the backing of incoming Reps. Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, and John Rutherford.

“The operation that was built in Northwest Florida, under Chairman Blaise Ingoglia’s leadership, was crucial in helping my team as well as delivering the State of Florida for President-Elect Trump,” said Gaetz, who was elected in November in Florida’s 1st Congressional District and a former state representative. “We are grateful for his leadership and I am proud to support him for re-election as RPOF Chairman.”

Ingoglia was elected chairman in 2015, after Republican activists rejected Gov. Rick Scott’s hand-picked chairman. He had served as the party vice chairman, and was backed by grassroots leaders throughout the state.

Ingoglia will face Christian Ziegler, a Sarasota Republican committeeman, in the race to serve as the RPOF chair.

Ziegler, 33, announced his candidacy earlier this month.


Christian Cámara: Reinsurance saved Florida from catastrophic losses

christian-camara-of-the-r-street-instituteAs the Nov. 30 end of the hurricane season approaches, Floridians should be thankful. While this year’s storms Hermine and Matthew brought an end to the state’s decade-long hurricane drought, they easily could have been stronger or cut a more destructive path.

Indeed, had Hurricane Matthew tracked just 20 or more miles further west, it would have raked the entire east coast of Florida, bringing the full force of a Category 4 storm to the most populated and wealth-concentrated coastline in the region. Insured losses could have topped $35 billion.

That’s not to say the actual losses were trivial or insignificant. Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged, especially along Florida’s northeast coast. As of Oct. 27, the state reported more than 100,000 Hurricane Matthew-related insurance claims, and thousands more are expected to be filed in coming months. Ultimately, total losses are expected to reach $5 billion.

But thanks to responsible decisions made by Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over the past several years, coupled with trends in the global economy, homeowners are not expected to see insurance rate increases because of these storms.

Part of the luck Florida has experienced over the past decade is due not only to Mother Nature, but also to the reinsurance market. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies; that is, when an insurance company experiences catastrophic losses due to a major like a hurricane, its reinsurance protection kicks in and pays out a pre-negotiated percentage of claims.

Due to a realignment in the global capital markets, reinsurance prices have plummeted over the past several years, ushering in a “buyers’ market” that insurance companies have used to export more of their risk abroad and write more policies at home. Lawmakers and state regulators took note of this trend. Among other important insurance reforms, they have allowed state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp. (Citizens) and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (Cat Fund) to purchase reinsurance protection and other risk-transfer products without raising rates on consumers.

Thanks to these investments, based on current preliminary loss reports, it appears the state is poised ultimately to receive an influx of $1 billion in foreign capital to help pay these hurricane claims. These same reports estimate this amount could double to $2 billion, since roughly 50 percent of aggregate claims amounts will be paid for by foreign reinsurance entities.

This is significant. If private insurance companies were responsible for a higher share of their losses, they would have to dig deeper into their surplus accounts, which have to eventually be replenished—usually through rate increases on their consumers when policies come up for renewal. Instead, policyholders will be gratified that insurance companies took advantage of low reinsurance rates to purchase more of their own protection.

Current projections indicate that losses incurred by state-run Citizens and the Cat Fund will not trigger their reinsurance protection this time around. However, lawmakers and regulators alike should not forget how close Hurricane Matthew came to doing so. When making their decisions to protect consumers, the state’s property insurance market and taxpayers, Florida policymakers should not assume the next bullet will merely graze us like Matthew did.


Christian Cámara of the R Street Institute is a member of the Stronger Safer Florida coalition.

Several top Florida fundraisers among those listed as hosts for Donald Trump transition event

Donald Trump’s transition finance committee will host a major fundraiser in New York next week, and several well-known Florida politicos are among those supporters listed on the invitation.

The fundraiser, which was first reported by POLITICO, is scheduled for Dec. 7 in New York. According to POLITICO, the $5,000 per person fundraiser will benefit Trump for America, the group funding the transition. Trump is expected to attend the breakfast, according to POLITICO.

The hosts include Brian Ballard, the president-elect’s top Florida fundraiser and a well-known lobbyist, former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, former Ambassador Mel Sembler, and Darlene Jordan.

Crisafulli was a top supporter for Trump, raising money for the New York Republican and helping to bring him to the Space Coast for rallies. His name has been mentioned as one of several Floridians who could land jobs in the Trump administration, and earlier this month he told the Tampa Bay Times he would consider working for him if he was offered a job.

Another top fundraiser, Sembler is the former U.S. ambassador to Italy and the former U.S. ambassador to Australia and Nauru. He signed on to help Trump earlier this year, and was named the vice chairman of the Trump Victory Committee in May.

Jordan, the executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, is another top Republican fundraiser in the Sunshine State. She served as co-chairwoman of Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 re-election bid. Scott was an early supporter of Trump, penning an op-ed in January praising him.

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