In a nutshell, Florida’s CFO is responsible for the business of government. The CFO pays the bills, audits state income and expenses, making sure vendors have executed agreements as written. The CFO steps in when insurance companies go insolvent and can’t pay their claims.
In addition, the CFO is one of three trustees to the $160 billion state retirement system, sole trustee to the treasury fund and one of the four members of the state clemency board.
Ring, who represented West Broward in the state Senate from 2006-2016, when he was term limited, already has a record of accomplishment that continues to reap the state handsome financial benefits.
While in the Florida Senate, he took the lead in creating the Florida Growth Fund. Part of the Florida Technology and Growth Act of 2008, the fund invests assets from the Florida Retirement System in late-stage tech companies that have made a commitment to the state. According to Ring, the return has been higher than expected, about a 7.25 percent annual return. He says that the initiative has created 17,000 new jobs in the state.
Ring says that the state’s financial management system is too antiquated for the modern needs of the state. Fortunately, the Legislature has appropriated funding to replace the wheezing system. Ring wants to ensure that it is implemented by a strong project-management team, overseen by a board, and given the ability to accommodate future technological needs — building in the flexibility, for example, for automated auditing, as individual auditors are not as efficient, he says.
Ring, a former Yahoo executive, told the Editorial Board that he wants to replicate the financial success of the Florida Growth Fund by creating an infrastructure fund. He said that the Florida Retirement System already invests in global infrastructure funds. Why not one to both create jobs and upgrade crumbling roads, sewer pipes and bridges in the Sunshine State?
Patronis, whose schedule did not allow him to speak to the Editorial Board, has only filled the position since July 2017, when he was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to complete Jeff Atwater’s term. Atwater stepped down to join Florida Atlantic University. Before filling Atwater’s shoes, Patronis was on the Public Service Commission — also appointed by the governor. It was a position for which he had no experience in regulating utilities or in the legal arena. What he had was Scott’s seemingly eternal thanks for supporting his gubernatorial campaign in 2010.
As a member of the Clemency Board, which arbitrarily decides which ex-felons get their civil rights restored and which do not, Patronis asked one African-American applicant, a father, “How many different mothers to those children?” The relevance to the man being able to vote again was unclear.
There is little to nothing in Patronis’ professional background that makes him a candidate worthy of support for the important position of CFO. The position has authority over millions of dollars and the state’s financial stability. Florida’s CFO should be a financial pro.
The Miami Herald recommends JEREMY RING for chief financial officer.