Talk to Governor Rick Scott, and you’ll hear a lot of numbers. His specialty is understanding which numbers are important and which can be ignored. And one number he can’t ignore is the ever-dwindling number of days left in office. As of this morning, he has 915 days left to squeeze every ounce of productivity he can from those dwindling hours. And he’s determined to do it.
His goal? World domination.
“I want it known, and I want it a reality, that Florida is the number one place to find a job in the entire world,” Scott told The Capitolist in an exclusive interview.
From the moment he wakes up in the morning, typically at an hour that most Marine drill sergeants would roll over and hit the snooze button, Scott’s mind begins ticking down a checklist of personally delineated tasks he’s assigned himself. He attributes this trait to his background in the business world.
“Every day I get up, and ask myself: how do I move the needle?” he says. “I make lists. I work a list. I have a plan every day to get where I want to go. ”
But Scott’s sense of urgency isn’t driven by the fact that his time as governor is getting short. He has always been driven, always had a sense of urgency about him. He’s the same Rick Scott who, eager not to waste a waking moment as governor, started his term by scheduling a daily senior staff meeting at 7am.
Within two weeks, the meetings were pushed back to a more merciful 8am start after Scott noted nearly all his top advisers couldn’t stop yawning, exhausted by the boss’s insatiable appetite for productivity and results.
Two months in, even with a later start time, Scott’s external affairs director, responsible for scheduling and organizing the logistics around the governor’s movements, remarked, “I worked in the White House for years, and the operational tempo there isn’t anything like this.”
In the 66 months that have passed since Scott took office, he may have taken a slight detour on some parts of his ambitious agenda, but he hasn’t taken his foot off the gas.
Asked to list some of his proudest achievements, Scott rattles off the metrics that have become the hallmark of his governorship, as well as the salient questions he thinks will help him nudge those metrics in the right direction:
“Last month we created 200,000 jobs. I think Texas only created 29,000. We’ve beaten them 12 months in a row,” he says. “We’re down to just 60,000 people on unemployment benefits. So what can I do to reduce that number, so that everyone who wants a job can have one?”
Scott’s penchant for numbers even shows when he’s talking about more personal issues. Asked to share his favorite memory as governor, he doesn’t hesitate:
“In the last five-and-a-half years, I’ve had four grandchildren. They were all born since I became governor. Watching them grow up, being able to be there when they were born, is by far my best memory.”
He can’t help but mention numbers when talking about the people he interacts with as governor. “I think I’ve shaken hands with 400,000 people.”
Racing down the homestretch of his time in office, Scott knows his legacy depends largely on what he’s able to accomplish in these final two years. Asked about it, he is quick to outline Florida’s substantially increased infrastructure spending since he became governor.
“Our transportation budget is up almost 50%. We’ve increased spending on Florida’s ports by over $1 billion,” he says. “We are one of the fastest growing states. That investment in infrastructure, in ports, long term, is going to create jobs for everybody.”
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My hat’s off to him on the high points he mentioned. Those are real achievements. To be fair however, you have to look at some of the missed opportunities – Obamacare, Oberfell, Zimmerman.