Peltier column: Gov. Scott needs to focus on non-economic issues too, some legislators say

MICHAEL PELTIER

Pushing back on Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to mothball a handful of programs housed within his office, the Florida Senate last week told the governor in no uncertain terms that he has bigger responsibilities than just bringing jobs to the state.

As Senate lawmakers were debating changes to the chamber’s budget proposal in preparation for conference, members offered a series of amendments to restore his programs cut by the governor affecting drug control efforts and adoption services, responsibilities Scott said earlier in his term he doesn’t want.

“I commend him for wanting ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,’ but he has a whole array of things for which he is responsible and for which he must support our efforts that we’ve had for so many years,” Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach.

No one is arguing the Scott has not done what he promised during the campaign. Since taking office he has been the state’s top marketer, crisscrossing the state and manning the phones to bring businesses to the state. He’s also following through on promises to the sharpen the focus of government in general and his office in particular. In December, Scott informed all four full-time employees working in the governor’s Office of Drug Control that they would not be rehired when he took office in January. The move would save approximately $500,000 in salary and benefits. Likewise, Scott has called for moving the Office of Adoption and Child Protection from his office and its duties transfer to the Department of Children and Families.

On Thursday, Senators voted to overrule the governor on both points by adding amendments to a pair of measures to return the offices to the governor’s control.

An amendment Thursday by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, said she offered the adoption amendment because foster and adopted children have nowhere else to turn and the governor needs to lead the way “whether he likes it or not.”

Storms said DCF is overwhelmed with other child care issues and adoptive children need to have a voice outside the agency looking out for their interests.

“I’m not saying the economy and jobs aren’t important,” Storms said. “But just like every other working parent, (Scott) has to pay the bills and go to work and take care of the kids. This is taking care of the kids.”

Shortly after the Storm’s amendment was adopted, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, offered another to return the drug control offices to the governor’s control . Lynn was among Senate members to applaud Fasano’s and Storms’ amendments and took the time rib the governor for possibly focusing his attention too closely on only the issues he finds important, such as economic development.

“Let’s make sure the governor shows that he, too, is interested in cleaning up the many problems we have with all of these issues and that he will take responsibility just as we have to do here,” Lynn said.

E-mail Michael Peltier at mpeltier1234@comcast.net.

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