DAVIE (CBS4) — Gov. Rick Scott was in South Florida Friday morning as the keynote speaker at Broward County’s 3rd Annual “State of our County” forum where he addressed tough issues facing the state.
The event was held at the Signature Grand in Davie where Gov. Scott told the crowd of top business leaders and politicians that the state is in serious debt and should be run like a business.
“It’s a right to work state, has beaches, and proximity to an expanding Panama Canal, Scott said. “There’s a lot of things we have going for us. But that’s not good enough. If you look at what we do in Tallahassee, we don’t solve problems fast enough,” he said. “We have not run this well enough, like a business.”
He said hard decisions must be made, including deep cuts to the Department of Children and Families, now under fire after failing to protect and prevent the tragic death of Nubia Barahona and abuse of her twin brother, Victor.
An independent panel investigating the Barahona case just released its final report and recommended immediate reviews of case managers and psychologists, along with an overhaul of DCF’s abuse hotline. The recommendations come as the Governor has proposed slashing DCF’s budget by $179 million. He’s also proposed cutting 1,849 positions, from 13,`86 to 11,337, which is a 14-percent reduction in workforce.
It’s a move he says is necessary.
“We all have to understand that every family in the state has had to tighten their belt, they’ve got to figure out how to do more with less because if we don’t we’re never going to grow jobs in this state,” said Gov. Scott.
Creating jobs, cutting property taxes and attracting business to the state, all topics Gov. Scott discussed. Also at the forefront, education, funding which he said he would not touch during his campaign but has since proposed a $200 million cut in his current budget plan.
Public school officials say his proposal to slash spending by up to $703 per student, or 10-percent, would result in laying off thousands of teachers.
“School districts have to figure out how to do things better with less just like everybody else in the state,” said Gov. Scott.
Scott also said he liked the teacher merit pay bill passed Thursday by the Senate that would measure teacher effectiveness.
He said teachers should be measured and rewarded based on their performance. “Should somebody, just because they’ve been there long, keep their job? You don’t do that in business. Why should we do that in education?”
The governor pledged to do what he said he would during the campaign, “Run the state like you run a business.”
“Everybody says you can’t do that,” Scott said, but he said it can be done by focusing on the customer, solving their needs and constantly measuring performance.”