Politics meets the State Fair: Governor and Cabinet meet in Tampa on opening day listen02/09/12 Janelle Irwin
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Governor Rick Scott got to have some fun in Tampa at the opening day of the Florida State Fair today where he held a Cabinet meeting. Aside from tours and eating fried food, Scott also got kudos from Tampa Bay area locals.
At the cabinet meeting a group of about 50 Floridians wore shirts advertising their coalition: Put the Brakes on Accident Fraud. Austin Curry was one of many advocates waving signs thanking the Governor and Cabinet for their efforts to stop the loss of 1 billion dollars they say is being lost to personal injury protection auto insurance fraud statewide.
â€œWe have to stamp this out because itâ€™s not only impacting the elders, itâ€™s everybody. Everybody is paying for fraud whether they realize it or not. In the heavy concentrated areas â€“ Miami-Dade, Orlando and Tampa â€“ increases of 200-300 dollars per individual is not uncommon. Itâ€™s criminal and weâ€™ve got to eliminate it. What weâ€™re doing is absolutely wrong and weâ€™ve got to realize this. Governor Scott and CFO Atwater are to be commended for their valiant stand to eliminate this and save the citizens of Florida needed dollars.â€
The coalition is proposing a 3 point program that includes shutting down clinics, suspending licenses and arresting anyone found participating in auto insurance fraud. Governor Scott has said he will make it a priority to address the problem, but he canâ€™t do it alone.
â€œI hope everybody calls their legislators to make sure that you let them know that you are tired of a billion dollars in fraud in this state and youâ€™re tired of the cost of auto insurance going up in this manner, 30%, year after year after year.â€
And Floridaâ€™s Governor wasnâ€™t the only one recognized at the meeting. So were the football and girlsâ€™ cross country teams from Plant High School for their state championship titles and academic achievements and a Boy Scout group for making sure homes were equipped with smoke detectors. Attorney General Pam Bondi also issued a resolution to Tampa.
â€œThe City of Tampa, as we all know, is a vibrant metropolitan area and Iâ€™ve worked in Hillsborough County as a prosecutor for almost 20 years. And thanks to our Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, who is here today and our police chief, Jane Castor, weâ€™ve worked together for 20 years and wonâ€™t tell how old we are. Thank you for all the great work.â€
In a report to Cabinet officials, Julie Jones, the executive director for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said wait times for driversâ€™ licenses in the state are still lagging far below acceptable levels. However, she added that wait times did improve by 10 percent since the last quarter.
â€œWeâ€™ve done this by increasing staffing, doing a better education, mentoring, front desk performance measures and reorganizing our offices so our office managers are responsible for specific measures in that office. And thatâ€™s the message Iâ€™ve gotten from the Governor and cabinet several times. Push this down, have local supervisors be more accountable and so we are pushing this needle.â€
Todayâ€™s Cabinet meeting was held at the Florida State Fair Grounds in a symbolic show of support for Floridaâ€™s strong agricultural economy. Florida Future Farmers of America Foundation president, Charlie Brown, said on a trip to China he saw just how important U.S. farming is to the world.
â€œItâ€™s because of American agriculture that we are able to feed ourselves and also the majority of the world. While we were there, Iâ€™ll be happy to tell you that we saw many things that were produced here in America and here in Florida.â€
He also told Governor Scott that agriculture makes up 17% of the workforce in the U.S. Scott added that farming related business is a substantial part of Floridaâ€™s economy too.
â€œSo, we have got to do everything we can to continue to support the agriculture community if we want to continue to grow jobs in our state.â€
The next Cabinet meeting is scheduled for February 28 back in Tallahassee.