Joe Gruters: Forget pundits, Rick Scott matters because results matter

The loss of Gov. Rick Scott’s candidate for chairman of the Republican Party of Florida has spawned a lot of punditry minimizing his importance. But Scott is actually more important than ever.

He is creating a road map to victory in Florida for any Republican presidential candidate through sound and successful policies that have righted the ship of state financially, reignited the economy and boosted education.

This really matters nationally.

Florida is now the third most populated state in the nation and the largest swing state. Minimizing Scott is an attempt to minimize his road map to winning here. But he was twice written off by pundits, polls and even leading members of his own party.

The third time will not be a charm.

There has always been uneasiness with his leadership style and he is not a slick politician. But the results Rick Scott has delivered while governor of Florida prove not only the mettle of the man, but the resounding success of his policies.

Scott is now America’s jobs and education governor as a result of his relentless pursuit of creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and making the state’s education system affordable and one of the best in the nation.

Florida has created more than 715,000 new jobs and our unemployment is hovering at 5.6 percent – about half of what it was when Scott took office. Our economy is continuing to improve every day and Rick Scott is encouraging more corporations fleeing high tax-and-spend states to relocate to the Sunshine State.

Scott’s policies, backed by the Legislature, have included reducing tax burdens on job-producers, flipping the state’s budget from bleeding red under his predecessor to running billion-dollar surpluses, replenishing a rainy-day fund and boosting spending in education. Because of education cuts in the first year to balance the state budget – which was financially responsible – and economy-boosting policies, Scott is now spending a record amount on education.

For the 2015-2016 school year, Scott has proposed public school K-12 spending at a record high of $7,176 per student. And the great part is that we can afford it because of his policies and earlier spending restraint. His proposal adds $840 million in additional funding without robbing Peter to pay Paul. This is important.

But there is also the spending side of higher education. Right now, parents must save on average $53,000 – $53,000! – to get a child through a four-year degree. That’s not right.

So Rick Scott got buy-in from all 23 institutions in the Florida College System to offer $10,000 four-year degrees. This still needs to become reality, but simple agreement to the concept is huge.

Further, Scott continues to battle against tuition increases at our universities, something that has been a runaway cost train the past 30 years. Leaders in his own party are pushing 6 percent tuition hikes, and some have said as much as 15 percent. This, after college education has risen faster than even health care costs in recent decades – forcing parents to save $53,000 per student. Scott is standing athwart this train track and shouting, “Halt!” The establishment may hate that, but again it is good for the students.

The roaring success of Florida’s economy and focus on education spending has not only led to an improbable victory in November for Gov. Scott over a long-time politician, but has created a path to victory for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee. These are no small feats when looking at the mess Florida was in when Scott took office in 2011.

Because of its size and swing nature, Florida is the most important state in the 2016 presidential elections. The Republican nominee must win Florida to gain the keys to the White House and finally turn the ship of state around.

Rick Scott is a primary reason why that is more attainable now than it was in years past. He is a leader with both vision and competence, a success in business and a success in governing.

Results matter, and that’s why Rick Scott matters.

Joe Gruters is the newly elected Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and Chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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