Florida May Cut 5% of State Jobs to Address Deficit, Governor-Elect Says

Florida, facing a $2.5 billion budget gap next fiscal year, may cut 5 percent of its state workforce to save costs, Governor-elect Rick Scott said.

The reduction may save $300 million a year, the Republican former health-industry executive said in an interview today on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness With Margaret Brennan.”

“Our government has grown too fast compared to the private sector,” said Scott, 58. “When that happens, jobs go away, so we have to reduce the size of government.”

Scott defeated the state’s chief financial officer, Democrat Alex Sink, in November elections with a plan to create 700,000 jobs, cut property taxes by 19 percent and phase out the state’s business-income levy over seven years.

“There are a lot of efficiencies we can gain in state government,” Scott said. “We have to go through every department and figure out how to reduce costs.”

He said no cuts will be made in education.

Scott said he had meetings with President Barack Obama in the White House recently at which he discussed options for his state to opt out of the national health-care plan passed by Congress.

“It is the biggest job killer ever,” Scott said. “Small- business people are starting to understand and they can’t afford it and they won’t hire anybody. They may hire on a part-time basis so they don’t have to provide benefits. I am optimistic that we will get it repealed. We can’t afford it and it will be horrible for patients.”

Company Founder

Scott founded Columbia Healthcare Corp., a hospital chain, in 1987. It merged with HCA Inc. in 1994, growing to 340 institutions and $20 billion in annual revenue.

In March 1997, the U.S. government announced an investigation of the company’s Medicare-billing practices and Scott left soon afterward. The company eventually paid more than $1.7 billion related to fraud in claims for Medicare, the government health plan for the elderly.

Scott, who spent a record $78 million on his campaign, said today that Medicaid, the federal health plan for low-income people whose costs are shared with states, is burdensome to administer.

“The big thing for most of us is Medicaid,” he said. “Let us make our own decisions. That is one of my biggest goals. I want to get a block grant. I know we can do Medicaid better than the federal government.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Brennan in New York at mbrennan25@bloomberg.net; Jerry Hart in Miami at jhart@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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