“Jeff Atwater speaks before JMI luncheon at the start of ‘Thrift Week’”
By Ryan Ray
January 21, 2015State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater gave the keynote address Wednesday morning at a luncheon celebrating the James Madison Institute’s “Thrift Week” initiative to promote less spending and more accountability in state government.As JMI President & CEO Bob McClure explained in his introduction to the CFO: “Being thrift-minded doesn’t just mean pinching pennies – it’s often about finding a way to increase quality without increasing spending, being innovative and focusing on getting more out of less. In comparison to other states in our nation, Florida understands this.”Amid the Benjamin Franklin-inspired week of plaudits for free-market economic principles and concern for the excesses of government, Atwater’s message was well at home. He spoke about the “Florida economic story” in glowing terms, contrasting the state’s performance in difficult economic times with the states he called our peers: Illinois, California, Texas, New Jersey, and New York.An excerpt from a Neil Cavuto broadcast on Fox News established the tone for the talk — Atwater was on to defend Florida’s good name after a public slight from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who suggested that new “enterprise zone” policies made his home state a more attractive site for emerging businesses than Florida.Atwater gave a 30-minute presentation highlighting the fact that since the Republican majority took over in the mid- and late-90s on a platform of smaller government and fiscal discipline, Florida has remained solvent throughout a difficult national business cycle and indeed performed better in fourth grade reading levels than most other large states, even those who draw more revenue through state taxes.Florida added a national-best $105 billion in new privately-owned capital via migration leaving other states from 1993-2010, Atwater said, three times as much as fellow Subelt state Arizona. During the same time frame, fellow mega-states like Pennsylvania and New York experienced a net loss in private capital. And since the 2008-09 economic downturn, only Texas and Florida have retained their ‘AAA’ bond rating.“That’s not just a Southern thing; it’s a philosophical thing,” Atwater intoned.“Fiscal discipline attracts capital. Even though the numbers are important, this story is not so much about the numbers. This is a story about a belief in the human spirit and an understanding that every policy has a consequence. I want you to see the numbers across time and note the results of public policymaking,” he said before a crowd of around 40 at the historic Columns house. “Whatever you are a part of, you didn’t achieve success by accident. Public policy is no different. Public policy has a value proposition.”Article: