Gov. Rick Scott talks jobs at roundtable meetings


Gov. Rick Scott visited rural Florida counties in the Panhandle for a series of rountable meetings related to job creation.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Gov. Rick Scott toured the Panhandle Monday, visiting with community and business leaders in a series of “roundtable” meetings focused on the unique challenges Florida’s small counties face in creating jobs.

The meetings were held in a part of the state where gubernatorial visits are rare occurrences. Scott used the opportunity to outline his economic development vision and learn about the unique challenges that Gadsden, Jackson, Walton, Calhoun, Washington and Holmes counties face.

“Today really is your day,” the governor told the group in Gadsden County. “I’m here to try to answer any questions.”

Although the governor requested the meetings in each county, the local chambers of commerce were relied upon to invite the guests. The attendees were generally local government officials, school administrators and area business owners.

That means Scott, known for his pro-business agenda, was in mostly friendly company throughout the day. But he still faced some of tough questions about education policy, school funding and workforce development.

Gadsden County Commission Chairwoman Sherrie Taylor lamented the state’s controversial plan to force counties to pay years of unpaid and disputed Medicaid bills and asked Scott for additional flexibility. The governor has repeatedly said that he supports the plan but will ensure safeguards are in place so counties pay only what can be proven that they owe.

Gadsden County could be forced to use its reserves if it isn’t given additional time to pay the $900,000 the state says it owes, Taylor said.

“Will there be any light, governor?” she asked. “Will there be any savings that could come in and help us on this end?”

Scott responded to her question by outlining some of his long-term plans for reducing Medicaid costs, such as managed care plans and requiring recipients to pay small copayments.

The governor will continue his tour next week, according to his staff, and will hold additional “business roundtables” in counties in the southern part of the state. None of those visits have been finalized yet.

It was Scott’s first official visit as governor to all of these counties except Gadsden, according to his staff. They are part of his efforts to gain insight about the resources businesses and community leaders say they need from the state in order to create jobs.

“You’re going to see more of this,” press secretary Lane Wright said. “This isn’t just happening today in the Panhandle.”

Tom Kinchen, president of the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, attended the roundtable meeting in Jackson County and asked the governor about support for private colleges. It was his first time meeting Scott, and Kinchen said the governor came across as genuine and open-minded during the hour long discussion.

“It’s always helpful to cross outside the city limits of the Capitol and get out where the folks are because after all we do have representative government,” Kinchen said.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at tmitchell@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Read more Political Currents stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category