State Politics

Local legislators say Scott should bring reform

BRADENTON -- Manatee County’s state delegation predicts that Florida Gov. Rick Scott will have a rocky first legislative session, but they think he is bringing in a much-needed “age of reform.”

“I think he’ll do a great job; I don’t think he gives a darn whether he gets re-elected or not, I think he came on a mission,” said state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.

Scott has been described as someone who “takes no prisoners,” Bennett said, adding that the governor will need to realize he’s elected, not “anointed.”

He theorized that Scott might clash with legislators over tax cuts, adding, “We’re not really looking too much at tax cuts, but we’ll work it out.”

State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, recalled that when former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush was elected, his first year in office was rocky because he had to learn that there really are three branches of government, not just one.

A new governor who has not worked in government, as is the case with Scott, might assume it’s the role of lawmakers to support all his initiatives -- and Scott might be surprised to discover they have ideas of their own.

But she agreed with Bennett that Scott could be a real asset in a period of economic turmoil.

“In tough times, it’s good to have a guy who is issue-oriented, which I think this governor is,” added Detert. “He’s very intensely motivated, fully intends to do what he said he’ll do, and he’s getting really good support from the people.”

And, she noted, the very wealthy Scott paid his own campaign costs to win office, and now, he doesn’t owe any political favors.

State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Bradenton, was impressed with Scott’s efforts to listen to what legislators had to say before he was sworn into office.

“What he did was he arranged a meeting, with maybe 15 in the room, and wanted to hear from every one of us, what we thought was important,” Steube said.

“From a leader’s perspective, that was a great approach.”