Gov. Rick Scott, who describes himself as “Florida’s Chief Economic Development Officer,” is taking control of his position and sparking controversy in the process.
Some state contracts are being approved and others put on hold as Scott and the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform work to reduce the state’s overall budget.
Shortly after his inauguration, Scott announced that he would be examining every state contract before it could move forward, during which time he placed a three-month freeze on all transportation projects.
“The freeze is a good thing because the way times are financially. They should be looking at things and what needs to be changed,” said Thomas McCall, a Tallahassee resident.
The contract freeze affects at least $400 million in transportation projects across Florida, according to documents released by the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform.
Although the contract freeze does not directly affect ongoing transportation projects in Tallahassee, there are others that could affect some local programs.
The Gadsden County School District’s share of federal Race to the Top funds are pending, along with those of several other school districts that are yet to be approved by the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform.
Scott has being placed under major pressure due to the impact that this decision has on the jobs dependent on state funds.
“I know many unemployed people waiting for call backs. I voted for Governor Scott to make the best decisions for job creation within the state of Florida but I really don’t understand why the freeze is necessary,” said Tallahassee resident Alecia Collins. “It seems like a drastic decision to me.”
Florida’s unemployment rate is 12 percent according to latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A large portion of the 1,108,308 Floridians without jobs are blue-collar workers in the construction sector.
“I guess it will be another three months before they receive a call back and it’s somewhat disappointing,” said Collins.
It is feared that Scott’s plan to “justify every tax dollar spent,” will elongate unemployment for many with the time Scott’s administration spends reviewing the several hundred contracts.
But under an executive order, no contract worth more than $1 million can go forward without an administrative review.
To date, there are 252 Florida Department of Transportation contracts, supplements and time extension projects awaiting execution.
[See attached documents for contracts that were both approved and pending. Gov. Scott’s decision puts a hold on all of them for at least three months.]