Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican candidate for governor, used a plant tour in Tallahassee Tuesday morning to highlight his plan to improve Florida's jobs climate. He spent about 90 minutes at Danfoss Turbocor, which makes energy efficient oil-free compressors for air conditioners. Located in Innovation Park, the company employs about 180 people and has tried, without success, to snag lucrative state contracts.
He promised, if elected, to abolish OTTED, the governor's economic development agency, and replace it with something he says would be better: separate offices to promote economic development and obtain federal grants.
"States like Texas and Mississippi clean our clocks in competition to bring business there right now and we have to turn that around," McCollum said as he returned to a familiar refrain: the need for lawsuit reform to reduce costs on businesses. "Right now we're not the lean, mean fighting machine when it comes to marketing our state."
The candidate acknowledged that the state's budget shortfall, now pegged at $3-billion to $6-billion next year, may actually worsen in the short term under his economic plans, which include cutting the state corporate income tax rate and creating a new sales tax break for high-tech equipment purchases.
But, in a bit unsettlingly for a seasoned candidate, McCollum on three separate occasions waved off questions when reporters pressed him for details (his GOP rival, Rick Scott, has yet to put forth any specific job-creating plans, but Scott is the neophy)te and McCollum is packaging himself as more prepared).
McCollum said he's "not prepared" to say where he might save money to close the shortfall. He said he will improve public education, but said "I'm not ready to go into all that today." And when he was asked to cite a single example of government over-regulation, he dusted off an old idea: Jeb Bush's "One-stop shopping" for business permitting. "But I'm not going to go into th edetails," McCollum said.
McCollum also said he's willing to testify as a witness in the Jim Greer case, in response to Monday's statement by Greer's lawyer that he will depose McCollum, Gov. Charlie Crist, and three prominent Republican legislators.
-- Steve Bousquet