When I saw the morning paper recently, I could not believe what I was reading: An endorsement for Charlie? I have known this Editorial Board to ask tough questions.
I hope it considered the questions no one seems to ask him: “Charlie, you repeatedly say you are the one that cares about Floridians but when we had an 11 percent unemployment rate, mortgage foreclosures reaching historically high levels, why did you abandon an office you practically begged Floridians to give you?
Furthermore, how can you, with a straight face, criticize Gov. Scott’s handling of the recession in Florida when you as governor could not be troubled with it because you were more interested in being a senator?
The Herald Editorial Board wrote, “When it comes to the all-important issue of jobs, Mr. Crist could learn from the current governor. Mr. Scott has actively wooed new businesses and jobs to Florida. He saw job creation as his priority from day one and has never lost focus.
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“He’ll move heaven and Earth to keep a Florida business from moving elsewhere.”
Instead of Crist learning something, he hasn’t been able to deliver on during his multiple offices and multiple political parties over multiple decades, why not stick with the guy who delivered results in under four years?
Gov. Scott’s efforts have produced admirable results by rolling up his sleeves and working. Before being sworn in, he was on the phone with business leaders, economic development professionals and elected officials around the state asking how he could help bring opportunities back to Florida. No press conferences, just hard work. Unemployment in Florida was at 11.1 percent and we had lost 830,000 jobs. Today we’ve added 651,300 private-sector jobs and unemployment is down to 6.1 percent, the second largest drop in unemployment out of all 50 states.
This task was not easy and did not happen by accident. Gov. Scott understands that being a leader means making tough decisions, which resulted in what Floridians desired, a job!
If there is any doubt that Gov. Scott deserves credit for creating an environment in Florida where over 650,000 of these jobs have been added, let me list a few of the many ways his leadership has made the difference:
▪ Tourism is a pillar of Florida’s economy. Recognizing this, Gov. Scott insisted on investing more resources into Visit Florida with the goal of attracting more visitors to our state. This is why Florida, which had approximately 83 million visitors a year in 2010-11, can now boast a record 93.7 million visitors in 2013 and indicators show our state is on a path to 100 million visitors in 2014. Why is this important? For every 85 visitors, one job is created or sustained.
▪ Efficiency in government. At the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) it took 41 days to procure a professional license while Crist was governor. Under Gov. Scott, after tracking productivity and holding the agency accountable, it now takes two days. That’s 39 fewer days of waiting for a small business owner to get a license and get to work.
▪ When the Obama administration refused funding for the Miami-Dade port dredging, project, Gov. Scott took action by reallocating over $100 million to ensure the project would continue. It now appears that the project may be completed before the expansion of the Panama Canal. This project means thousands of high-paying skilled jobs in our state.
These are only three examples. I could list several more, but in the interest of keeping this short, I will simply ask any interested reader to check out Gov. Scott’s accomplishments and plans to move Florida forward on our website: www.scottforflorida.com.
There readers will find 65 pages of specific and innovative plans for the next four years. On the contrary, you could look at Charlie Crist’s nine pages, which is full of more rhetoric and attacks against Gov. Scott and not much else.
As lieutenant governor, I’ve gotten to know Rick Scott. He is not a smooth politician, but I can say without hesitation that he works hard every day because he really cares about the future for all of our families and the well-being of our state.
I’ve also known Charlie Crist for almost 20 years and he is the smoothest of smooth politicians, but his hard work has always been — and always will be — dedicated to protecting his image and his political ambitions. I urge South Floridians to make their decision for governor based on results and vision, rather than platitudes and rhetoric.
Carlos Lopez-Cantera is the lieutenant governor of Florida and the former property appraiser of Miami-Dade County.