Economic prosperity in Florida climbed to new heights under the Gov. Rick Scott administration. In The Villages today to bestow veterans medals at Eisenhower Recreation Center, the two-term governor adopted policies and advocated legislative changes that restored jobs and growth lost under the prior administration. While doing so, he also cut taxes and reduced onerous regulations on residents and businesses. The governor accomplished all of this while sharing the credit and limelight with elected officials and other policymakers, said Marlene O’Toole, who worked closely with Scott as The Villages former state representative. “He never bragged about it,” said O’Toole, of the Village Mira Mesa, and now director of the Beacon Center at Leesburg’s Beacon College. “You never heard him say that he created those jobs. He simply laid out the plan, and everybody around him achieved it. His role was convincing everyone around him that we could do it. This was not about political party. We knew what he wanted us to achieve; and, through his motivation and constant attention, we achieved it,” she said.
Numbers tell a compelling story, too.
Florida’s gross domestic product for all industries grew 15.3 percent to $841.4 billion in the third quarter 2017 from January 2011, Scott’s first month in office, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Under the previous administration, state GDP decreased 3.3 percent to $734 billion from the first quarter 2005 to December 2010, BEA data showed.
Job growth flourished under Scott’s administration.
Employment grew nearly 1.49 million jobs by February this year, a 20.6 percent increase from January 2011, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Those accomplishments strongly align with the free-market advocacy of the James Madison Institute, a Tallahassee-based think tank.
“When Rick Scott finishes his time in the governor’s office, we will turn the page on one of the single most successful periods of Florida’s history,” said J. Robert McClure, Ph.D., the nonprofit group’s president and CEO. “He’ll always be noted as the ‘jobs governor,’ and that fits. He led us out of the Great Recession, which struck Florida harder than almost every other state. He governed by a series of conservative principles that illustrate how successful an economy can become when left free from government intrusion.
Many also cite his leadership during difficult times, too, McClure said.
“He also showed remarkable leadership in the wake of several crises including hurricanes, tragic shootings, and environmental challenges,” he said. “Florida is a much better state because of the leadership and commitment to limited government, freedom and economic prosperity that Gov. Scott has shown.”
The governor accomplished so much that Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, found it difficult to identify only five of Scott’s key accomplishments.
For example, Scott signed all 138 chamber-advocated legislative bills sent to him, Wilson said.
“Perhaps, his greatest accomplishment is the major culture change he led,” he said. “Gov. Scott literally made good jobs for everyone his mantra and his total focus. While some people don’t understand how our economy works, Gov. Scott did more to create a culture of private-sector job growth than any governor in America.”
In light of natural disasters, oil spills and tragedy, the citizens of Florida now understand Scott’s ability to manage in time of crisis, Wilson said.
“Gov. Rick Scott has made job creation and free enterprise a focus of his administration” he said. “His efforts have led to $10 billion in tax and fee cuts, more than 4,500 cuts to unnecessary regulations on businesses and 1.5 million jobs in nearly eight years. Throughout his terms as governor, his leadership in the face of hardships has helped Florida rise through challenges that would have stopped other states in their tracks.”
For Scott, however, his service as governor boils down to doing what’s right for the citizens of Florida.
“Before I became governor, everyone told me that a businessman could not turn Florida’s economy around,” he told the Daily Sun. “Let’s remember; Florida lost over 800,000 jobs in the four years before I came into office. Since then, we’ve created nearly 1.5 million private-sector jobs.”
That determination to accomplish what’s best for the citizens comes from his personal experiences, he said.
“My focus on job creation is due in large part to my family’s difficulty to make ends meet during my childhood,” he said. “I watched my mom and dad struggle for work, and the memory of that impacts me every day. I want Florida to be the place where any family can find opportunities to succeed.”
So, it’s been an enriching time for him to serve the people of Florida, Scott added.
“Since taking office, my family has also grown, and I’ve become a grandfather to six incredible grandsons,” he said. “My family is my proudest accomplishment. But there’s always more work to be done, and I will never stop fighting for Florida families. I’m proud of what we have accomplished.”
David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or firstname.lastname@example.org.