By ALICIA LEONARD
Florida Gov. Rick Scott along with Florida House Representatives Brad Drake and Marti Coley as well as Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson made a stop to meet with residents in DeFuniak Springs June 4.
The governor appeared relaxed and upbeat as he mingled and shook hands with a cross-section of local business and civic leaders. Scott first stopped in at Ed’s Restaurant (Tastee Freeze) home of the Pub burger, for some lunch before making his way over to the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood to sit in on a round of questions and answers from the public.
Scott heard questions from the audience about the fields of education, tourism spending, government regulations, financial education and hands-on learning.
Scott told the audience that his three main objectives were funding for education, making more jobs and keeping the cost of government low. Scott has taken heat in the past for education dollars but told the crowd, “You’re doing a good job here. I know it’s not always the easy thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Walton County Superintendent of Schools Carlene Anderson spoke with Scott about the use of funds for the district. “We need flexibility with our funding, so that schools that receive those dollars can apply the funds to where they are needed most.”
Scott also heard about the local discussion of tourism dollars being spent only south of the bay bridge. “We need to find a way to promote the northern part of our county and let people know about the rich history we have to share here,” said Tom Hutchins, owner of Hotel DeFuniak. Hutchins expressed the need for local hotels to either take part in or to have a possible small bed tax to use for promotion, since TDC funds are spent on advertising Walton beaches and not other community points of interest in Walton County.
Scott spoke on his record of regulation-cutting as being a strong point for small businesses. “In the last 17 months we have cut over 14,000 regulations from the books. This is better for everyone, from customers to small business.”
The biggest point that Scott got across to his audience was getting answers. ‘We need people to contact us. To let us know what they are dealing with. To call our office or get in touch with us about what they are facing. We will get them the answers. They might not always like the answers, but we will answer you. We work for you.”