TALLAHASSEE — The chain of health care clinics started by Gov. Rick Scott is moving some jobs out of Florida, a financial newspaper in Jacksonville reported.
Scott, who has staked his legacy on job creation, said Wednesday it was "disappointing" to learn his former company, Solantic, was moving an unknown number of executive positions to Nashville.
"I believe that we've put ourselves in a position that this is the best state to build businesses." Scott said. "But some people I guess don't agree with me."
Scott founded Solantic in 2001, and the company has grown to 32 urgent-care clinics around the state. Scott sold the company in June to the New York investment firm of Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe after repeated questions about how the clinics could benefit from his health care agenda.
Solantic spokeswoman Mandy Villalva told the Financial News & Daily Record in Jacksonville that the company's executive team was moving to a new corporate headquarters in Nashville and that employees had been notified.
Villalva told the Jacksonville publication in a story posted online on Tuesday that she did not know how many employees would be leaving Florida.
On Wednesday, Villalva released a statement that the company was opening an "additional" corporate office in Nashville. The statement did not dispute the Daily Record report and described the changes as an expansion. Villalva did not respond to questions.
Scott's office used the Solantic statement late Wednesday to insist that the company was not relocating.
Scott was asked about Solantic during the annual meeting of Florida news editors and reporters hosted by the Associated Press in Tallahassee.
Asked about the legislative session that starts in January, Scott said he had not decided if he'll push to make private school vouchers available to all public school students. Scott abandoned a similar plan last year.
Scott also declined to comment about a contentious bill that would bring casinos to South Florida and said he had no plans yet for his higher education agenda. Scott earned headlines across the state when his office posted university salaries online and after he mocked anthropology majors in an attempt to encourage more science-related majors.
"I couldn't tell you what I want to happen right now," Scott said about specific changes to the university system.
Other highlights from the AP meeting:
House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, voiced reservation about the casino bill. "I am philosophically opposed to the expansion of gambling in our state," he said.
Cannon recoiled when asked about a pair of bills that would pay the personal-injury claims for two Floridians. The measures are top priorities of Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
"Claims bills are pretty far low down on the threshold," Cannon said. "The session hasn't even begun yet, and you guys are already trying to forecast what might be the tension. It's so easy to talk about friction and miss the extraordinary strides we've made."
Haridopolos said he might steer clear of using the budget to write new policy. That issue led to a meltdown on the final day of the legislative session this year.
"We can improve that part of the process," the Merritt Island Republican said.
Haridopolos said the casino bill would be fully debated in his chamber. "If people have not heard we have gambling in the state," he said. "It exists, and we are going to do it the right way."
House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders said his party, in the minority in the House and Senate since 1996, had "bottomed out" and would pick up seats in the fall.
Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich called it "incredibly disappointing" that Republicans will make budget cuts to programs while turning away federal grants and declining new tax revenue.
Haridopolos endorsed U.S. Rep. Connie Mack in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. The only candidates to attend the meeting were Craig Miller and Mike McCalister. In his remarks, McCalister said communism remains a threat the United States.
"We still in our country have influences that would like to have much more of a communist-style environment," he said. "They (Russia) obviously would like to be a world power again, but I don't want another Cold War."