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Gov. Rick Scott on Jobs, Insurance, Education and More

During a three-day visit to Tampa, Scott sat down for in-depth interviews with several television and radio stations. He also took a page from former Gov. Bob Graham and spent some time doing another job -- selling doughnuts.

Scott also spoke to Florida Matters about the economy, education, insurance, and his own low poll numbers.

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Florida's economy is in worse shape than most states, but Scott says more recently, the state's been improving faster than the rest of the country.

“You do it by keeping our taxes as low as possible, not wasting any dollars, get rid of regulations that are killing jobs. I mean, we over-regulate too many things, it takes too long to get permits. And make sure we don't have frivolous lawsuits. That creates the jobs we need,” he said.

Scott says state revenues are doing better than expected. And he says Florida spends less on state government than almost any other state. But he says more cuts to the state budget may be needed.

“There's always areas that you can reduce. My job is really to prioritize how you spend money. And there's all these competing interests,” Scott said.

“So far, no one's come up to me with an idea as to how to cut something. They always come up with an idea about how to do more.”

He also said he may seek more corporate tax cuts next year, depending on how state revenues are looking.

As students prepare to go back to school, school administrators are trying to find the money for merit pay, even as they face budget cuts.

Scott is a big supporter of merit pay. And he says those school administrators should look for the money...right in their backyard.

“What we've got to make sure is we in our school systems, we spend the money on instruction, not administration,” Scott said. “Just like every family and every business, we have to figure out how to do the right things and how to spend our money wiser all the time.”

Scott blamed the end of the federal stimulus program for budget cuts, not himself or state lawmakers. He says strengthening education, increasing jobs and keeping the cost of living down are his three main goals as governor.

Scott says he's open to holding a special session about sinkhole insurance -- but he wants to see what the insurance commission does first.

State-run Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is asking for a rate increase of more than 400 percent on sinkhole coverage. In some parts of Tampa Bay, it’s more than 2,000 percent.

Republican state Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey says that sort of increase would destroy the local real estate market and kick seniors out of their homes. He's calling for a special session.

This is happening because lawmakers passed a bill, supported by Scott, to remove the cap on sinkhole premiums.

“If we need a special session, all of us will want to have a special session. But let's look at what happens,” he said.

“We as insurance holders are all on the hook for Citizens. We can't continue to do this. I talked about it during my campaign, we have got to fix this.”

The new law also makes it harder to file a sinkhole claim. Scott says the insurance commission should take into effect how the new law will decrease sinkhole claims before approving any rate hike.

Governor Rick Scott has spent the last three days in Tampa on a media offensive, doing in-depth interviews with several T.V. and radio stations.

But he says he's not just talking on this trip -- he's listening.

Taking a page from former Governor Bob Graham, he spent one morning working at a Tampa donut shop.

“One of the best things about working in the donut shop was, all the people came up with, one, their issues, their problems, and two, all their ideas, everything they think we should do,” he said.

Scott went on to meet with a biology teacher in Tampa to hear her ideas for education and spent some time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at training camp before heading home to Naples. He says he plans to take on other jobs in the future.

After months of only granting extended interviews to certain media outlets, especially conservative talk radio stations, Governor Rick Scott has agreed to meet with newspaper editorial boards and sit down for more in-depth interview with other T.V. and radio stations.

Scott says he's not doing it because of his low poll numbers, but because he has more time now that the legislative session is over. He also wants to start a dialog with the people of Florida.

“The thing I think people ought to do is, go ask questions. And listen. Look, it's my job. I listen. It's my job, I want to hear issues they have, I want to hear ideas that people have…

“I did this because I want to improve this state. I want to make this the state that people can get an education. They can get a job. It's not ridiculously expensive to live here. And they can live their American dream.”

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