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In private speech to business group, Rick Scott lays out agenda

Republican Rick Scott largely ran through his campaign talking points tonight in his first speech since winning the election, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks. No press was allowed in to the speech delivered to a group of Florida business leaders, who Scott needs to help him deliver on a promise of creating 700,000 new jobs.

In the speech, Scott called the state's pension system a "ticking fiscal time bomb" and said state government "has more mid-level managers than it needs."

Scott said prison staff should not be paid more the comparable private sector employees, that welfare recipients should be drug tested and worker's compansation costs should be cut by 35 percent.

"Many will focus on the short term sacrifices," Scott said. "Those of us whose business careers have taught us to accept austerity as the price for dramatic turnarounds need to reassure Floridians that better days are coming."

Scott also took a shot at the media that was not present, saying he was asked about a "squabble" between the Legislature and the Governor's Office. True, Scott did brush off a question about a potential veto override Gov. Charlie Crist described as a power grab by the Legislature. But a few days later at a Florida State University football game, Scott asked Senate President Mike Haridopolos not to override the veto. Haridopolos agreed.

Here's the speech: 

Rick Scott’s Remarks (As Prepared):

It is a pleasure to be here tonight with the leaders of Florida’s business community.

Like my predecessors in the Governor’s Office, I consider the Council of 100 a unique resource for advice and support,  and I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you as I begin putting my plan for Florida into place.

I ran for Governor as an outsider---not just because I’ve never held public office, but also because my 35 years in business give me an entirely different perspective on government.

I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve as Florida’s Governor.

But I know I will always have more in common with all of YOU than with any politician.

Business people share some important habits of mind.

We are willing to take risks for the possibility of reward.

We expect to be held accountable for what we do.

We understand that ignoring the bottom line is fatal.

And we know that all the promises of politicians are fantasy unless private businesses create the jobs that ultimately pay to keep those promises.

Tonight I’d like to share with you my assessment of where we are — both our challenges and our assets — I want to make our goals clear, and talk about how we get there. And finally I want to ask for your help.

The State of Florida is like a lot of companies.

Its overhead is too high.

It has more mid-level managers than it needs.

Its financial controls are too weak.

It hasn’t been clear about its core competencies.

It doesn’t measure enough.

And it lacks a sufficiently focused strategic plan.

The state faces a 2-3 Billion Dollar budget deficit.

Unemployment is high.  Almost half our homeowners are underwater on their mortgages.

But Florida also has some incredible, unique assets.

In 1875, a man named William D. Kelly visited Florida and wrote about his visit.

He asked Floridians what they did for a living, and he was told, "We sell atmosphere."

Today, of course, we sell lots of things.

But that atmosphere — the climate and scenery, the creativity, energy and rich diversity — that atmosphere continues to make Florida special.

Our tourism industry, beaches, unique theme parks--

An agricultural sector that capitalizes on the climate--

Our strong position in biomedical research and health care--

FOURTEEN ports --

And a military complex, including a Space Center, that reaches into every region of the state

Our geographical location makes us the natural link to the growing economies of Central and South America

We have hard-working people who want a better life for their children.

Our budget deficit, while serious, is much less daunting than the deficits plaguing many other states.

We are a state WITHOUT an income tax.

A Right-to-Work state.

And until very recently we were a national leader in job creation.

Those assets make me very optimistic about what we can do under new management.

Let’s be clear about where we’d like to be as a state.

We’d like to be Number One in Job Creation

Number one in Economic Growth.

Number one in Public Safety

And Number one in Education.

I firmly believe these goals are achievable once we take the right steps.

Here’s how we get there:

I have a seven step plan to create 700,000 jobs in 7 years.

The first step is to implement Accountability Budgeting.

No successful private company would consider any OTHER kind of budgeting.

But in government it’s remarkably rare.

My plan will compare the costs and benefits of every government activity before deciding whether or how to fund it.

We will adopt transparent, outcome-based biennial budgets.

Spending is allowed to increase only as private sector growth occurs.

We will avoid pitfalls like accepting temporary federal assistance that comes with permanent state spending obligations.

Closely associated with accountability budgeting is a reduction in state spending.

Outcome-based budgeting

In 1845 the first Governor of the state of Florida had a state budget of $41,500.

Since then, the pressure to increase state spending has never abated.

Think about this: In business, overhead expenses become LESS burdensome as the size of business grows. But in Government, the dead weight of government overhead seems to have no limit.

Over the last few years, the size of government in Florida compared to the size of Florida’s private sector has exploded.

The easy path for a politician is to avoid conflict by presenting budgets that rely on magical thinking.

Reining in spending requires a willingness to do tough, unpopular things.

Let’s take some examples:

At every level of government---local, state and federal,--public sector pensions are a ticking fiscal time bomb.

Florida has to bring its pension system into line with other states’ plans by increasing employee contributions. Doing that will save almost 1.4 Billion dollars.

There are savings to be had in our Corrections System. We can bring down the costs per prisoner of incarceration by competitively bidding health care contracts and paying competitive salaries for prison staff.  Prison staff should be paid as well, but not better, than comparable private sector employees.

We should drug test welfare recipients to make sure we aren’t inadvertently subsidizing addictions.

We need to get a waiver to reform our Medicaid program and rework our health care benefits for  state employees. Consumer directed care will lower the costs and increase the available choices. I have considerable experience in driving down health care costs while maintaining quality.  The cost saving measures we put into place at Columbia /HCA drove down national health care inflation from 18% to 8% in seven years.

I’m convinced there are significant operational efficiencies to be achieved throughout state government. We can certainly reduce the state workforce by 5% without affecting the quality of service delivered.

Capturing these operational efficiencies begins with  better means of measurement.  One of the clearest lessons I have learned from my business career—and I’m sure you’ve learned from yours—is that improvement begins with measurement.

All the way back to my first business—a donut shop I bought to give my Mom a steady income—I saw the value of collecting data.  It turns out that donut shops sell more donuts on cold rainy days—and knowing that, you just make more donuts  in anticipation of the increased demand and reap the extra profit.

Every agency of state government needs to be measuring the variables that we have identified as goals and making improvements in response to the data.

Third, we need to make it easier to do business by taking a fresh look at every regulation.

Regulations grow and spread like weeds—if we aren’t actively working to cut them back, they choke off every productive effort.

This is an endemic weakness in government—so old that Thomas Jefferson listed this problem among his charges against the King of England in the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson wrote, “He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

Too many fledgling enterprises find their substance eaten out by regulatory costs and delays.

The Pacific Research Institute ranks Florida’s regulatory climate worse than 44 other states.

I will freeze regulations currently in the pipeline until we have an opportunity to evaluate their impact.

And we will begin immediately to review existing regulations to weigh their costs and benefits.

Now, I want to be clear: There are some regulations that are essential for health and safety and some that are essential to the protection of our environment.

Obviously, no responsible leader would tamper with those core safeguards.

But it’s way past time to demand that every regulation be re-evaluated.

We also need serious tort reform, and a 35% reduction in workman’s compensation costs.

The US Chamber of Commerce survey rates Florida worse than 41 other states for our state liability system.  Florida has been called a judicial hellhole.

If the plaintiffs’ bar is allowed to roam at will --treating businesses just as easy targets with deep pockets, businesses close or move.

If state government workers see their job as policing mindless regulations that restrict and obstruct business activity, businesses close or move.

To become the leader in job creation, the state of Florida has to align its policies with the pre-requisites for growth.

What we’re really looking for is a recognition that Business Activity is the HAND that Feeds us All.

Fourth, we have to undertake a sustained focus on job recruitment.

I intend to be Florida’s Chief Economic Development Officer.

I believe in Florida and I intend to go everywhere and talk to everyone who might expand or relocate here.

I’m going to count heavily on you—our state’s leading entrepreneurs and businesspeople—to help me reach the widest possible audience of potential  job creators.

The people in this room can create a compelling story about doing business in Florida.

Your faith in our state will carry enormous weight in the global business community and will help us get the talk right.

Fifth, we’ve got to increase and leverage the research capacity of our world class universities.

Some remarkable things are happening in technology clusters across the state. The biotechnology cluster in Orlando for example creates a 7:1 return on investment.

We can expand our economy into cutting edge enterprises by working with our research facilities.

And finally we need to cut taxes.

To reduce our property tax and eliminate the corporate tax.

As long as our business tax rates exceed those in other places, some companies will choose those other places.

The opportunity cost of a business tax is a higher unemployment rate.

That’s a cost I don’t accept.

In addition to the 7-7-7 plan for job creation, I’ve offered a plan to reform education,

A plan that focuses on measuring and improving student outcomes, expanding school choice, and taking advantage of the exciting potential for virtual and online education.

Education must be 100% about the students, not the system, and our education must prepare students for the workplace of the future, not the past.

One of my favorite quotes is from Peter Drucker.

He said “the best way to predict the future is to make it”.

Those of us who understand how the economy grows must step up and lead our state out of these hard times.

We can MAKE our future here in Florida.

So that’s the plan

And I intend to work that plan.

Every day.

With an intense focus that political types will find remarkable.

The other day, when I visited Tallahassee, reporters were anxious to ask me about some minor dispute relating to the prerogatives of the Governor.

They seemed surprised when I had little interest in that squabble.

I told them I was elected to create jobs and  that I am focused on  doing what it takes to create jobs.

Tallahassee is about to discover what it’s like to have a Governor who is totally FOCUSED on a goal.

I have met with the leaders of both houses of the Legislature and they have assured me that they share my core beliefs and are prepared to work in a strong partnership to get our economy in motion

Finally let me tell you what I need from you.

I’m now looking for the best talent I can find to join my team in Tallahassee.

If you’ve ever wanted to step out of the private sector for a short time and offer your skills to the state of Florida, this is the time to do it.

Even if you can’t join us, I need your ideas about how to make state government smaller and more effective.

I’m eager to consider any idea that comes with a well-thought-out return on investment.

I also need you to help me make the case to the wider public for a smaller government.

When it comes to state spending, there are lots of stakeholders in the status quo.

And they will mobilize organized opposition to this common sense plan.

The failure of the FEDERAL government to make progress on job creation has left Floridians distrustful of any plan coming from the government.

Many will focus on the short term sacrifices.

Those of us whose business careers have taught us to accept austerity as the price for dramatic turnarounds, need to reassure Floridians that better days are coming.

The truth is this:

Once we restore the right balance between the public and the private sectors, Florida’s future is unlimited.

Finally let me conclude with this.

The leaders in this room know how to make big things happen.

It’s hard to imagine anything this group couldn’t do if all its members were fully committed to the goal.

If we work together in a focused way, we can lay the foundation for an amazing era in Florida,

And our success in Florida can serve as a model for the entire country.

I’m looking forward to our partnership.

Let’s get to work.