|Governor visits Chamber of Commerce and talks FCAT, jobs|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:34|
Governor Rick Scott addressed a host of issues including the state budget, education, economic development and the environment during a meeting with local government officials and business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce in Macclenny the morning of June 5.
But it was jobs and FCAT related topics that took up much of the roughly one hour question-and-answer session with some 40 attendees as well as the state’s education secretary, Gerard Robinson, and Sherri Martin of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Chamber Director Darryl Register informed Governor Scott about the county’s need for faster distribution of the state’s economic development funding for transportation and utility upgrades to attract job-creating development.
“We have a lot of great land in a great location along I-10, near the port, between the I-95 and I-75 corridors, but we don’t have the infrastructure to support it," he said. "And business today is not willing to wait the two years to get that infrastructure in place. We need access to funding for infrastructure before we have the jobs sitting there waiting.”
Governor Scott explained that money should be spent in ways to “get a return for the taxpayers,” but that state funding remains in great demand for a number of projects and programs.
“If we need to build things early to create jobs, that’s how the money should get spent,” he said. “ ... But nobody’s come to my office in the last 17 months and said, ‘Spend less money in my area because I just don’t need as much.’ Everybody is asking for more money.”
School board members Patricia Weeks and Dwight Crews both pointed to the state’s every-increasing focus on high stakes testing and its impact on local schools.
“I feel like there’s too much emphasis put on the results,” said Mr. Crews. “And to take a school in a rural county like ours, where we’re economically poor, and compare it to a school in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and say that because of their scores on the FCAT, they have a lot better school than we have. I just think the kids there have an advantage over our kids here when the schools get them. And to penalize a rural county because of economic status is not fair.”
Mrs. Weeks went further, saying that taxpayer funds going to companies that make and score Florida’s standardized tests would be better spent on schools.
“I see a lot of our dollars, to me, being wasted,” she said.
The governor conceded that lobbyists play a big role in formulating education policy in Tallahassee and encouraged voters to lobby their legislators as well.
“There’s 60 days of [legislative] session every year. If you care about something, you better be in Tallahassee. I proposed a budget. The legislature passes a budget. These are your dollars. There’s a lot of people there asking about how these dollars are going to be spent. If you don’t show up, you are not going to be heard. And you have to make sure your representative and senator know what you think.”
Mrs. Weeks also voiced her support for oil drilling off the Florida coast, provided the state’s schools would receive a dedicated funding stream from oil companies.
The governor had reservations about the proposal, however.
“Everything we can do at the state level to make ourselves more energy independent, I think we’ll be better off,” said Gov. Scott. “[But] we have to make sure we don’t do offshore drilling in a manner that would risk our beaches, which has a dramatic impact on our economy.”
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 23:06|