Unfinished Business Remains For Cabinet Members

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TALLAHASSEE (NSF) – Members of the Florida Cabinet addressed unfinished business Tuesday after joining Gov. Rick Scott in being sworn in for their second terms.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi didn’t give speeches during an inauguration ceremony that featured Scott taking the oath of office and speaking to the crowd. But the Republican Cabinet members spoke afterward of continuing their work of the past four years while declining to address speculation about future political endeavors.

“I’m focused on being attorney general for the next four years,” Bondi told reporters after the ceremony on the steps of the Old Capitol.

Putnam, Atwater and Bondi each easily defeated Democratic challengers in November, with Putnam and Atwater barely drawing competition.

Atwater and Putnam thanked supporters by holding open houses Tuesday afternoon inside their Capitol offices.

“This is the next governor of the state of Florida,” declared Bruce Borders, a longtime rancher from the North Florida town of Branford who toured Putnam’s office with his Australian Shepherd Koda.

Putnam would only say that Borders “was very kind.”

Atwater laughed when asked the standard job-applicant question of, “Where do you see yourself in four years?”

Bondi enters her second term under deeper scrutiny than Atwater and Putnam, as courts have repeatedly ruled against her stance on gay marriage and recent news reports have implied she has cozy relationships with out-of-state lobbyists and corporate lawyers.

Bondi, who remains focused on cracking down on human trafficking and synthetic drugs, also has unveiled plans to advocate for victims of bullying.

Putnam talked of continuing efforts to protect the state’s agriculture economy and improve water quality, while noting that Scott’s desire to improve the state’s seaports ties in with the need to further export Florida produce.

“Because we don’t yet have a mature enough manufacturing base, the items that can go back on a post-Panamax ship that unloads in Miami are potentially perishables from Florida agriculture,” Putnam said. “That’s really what’s ready to be exported today. Those boats are only going to stop where they can reload after they unload.”

Putnam said an economic trade mission is being considered, with South Korea and Singapore as potential destinations.

“That’s an area of the world where they want what we produce, their economy is booming, and we’ve now got free-trade opportunities with them,” Putnam said.

Atwater addressed his continued desire to reduce property insurance rates, which he has repeatedly said should go down because insurers’ reinsurance costs have dropped. He also will continue to push for state contracts to be more accessible to the public.

“We want every Floridian to continue to see how your money is being spent,” Atwater said. “That remains a critical concern for us.”

Atwater also is working with state lawmakers to make Florida students better prepared for their financial future.

“We still see a Florida where there are individuals that are approaching their workforce days without really a basic understanding of finance; how to take care of things, how to plan for things,” Atwater said. “We believe there is a place for that and there are legislators that feel the same way.”

“The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner contributed to this report.”

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