Scott offers glimpse into the future: special districts, bewareby John Kennedy | September 6th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott provided a glimpse Tuesday at his second-year agenda as Florida’s chief executive, promising to continue pushing toward job-creation by cutting regulations and declaring war on the state’s 1,500 special districts.
Expanded oil-drilling in the Everglades, which Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann pointed to as a possibility during a recent visit to the state, looks like a longshot to Scott.
But he didn’t rule it out.
“I think we have to be very cautious with any oil-drilling, whether it’s in the Everglades or whether it’s near our beaches,” Scott told the Economic Club of Florida, meeting in Tallahassee.
Drilling has gone on in a remote stretch of Collier County since the 1940s. But currently only a relatively modest 2,800 barrels of oil are pulled daily from the site, according to Collier Resources, the company which does the drilling.
Scott, though, seems more focused on lifting state regulations — and reining in the tax-and-spending authority of Florida’s wide-ranging special districts. Palm Beach County, alone, has more than 9o such authorities, covering water management, health care, fire districts and more.
Scott told Tuesday’s gathering that these districts control $15 billion in taxes.
“That’s a lot of money,” Scott said. “And there’s not a single voter who gets to vote on what these tax rolls should be.”
Scott took aim at the state’s five water management districts earlier this year. The Legislature’s approval of $700 million in property-tax cuts — the biggest share imposed on the South Florida Water Management District — is expected to be cemented Wednesday when the Legislative Budget Commission signs off on new budgets for water managers.
In the 2012 legislative session, which begins in January, Scott also plans to push for cutting 1,100 state rules and regulations he said are unnecessary, duplicate federal standards, or stand in the way of sparking the economy.
“We’ve got to do anything we can to make sure we keep this from being an expensive place to live,” Scott said. “If we do that, there will be plenty of jobs.”