Gov. Rick Scott likes to say that nobody comes into his office to ask for less money.

So when people do ask for more funds, Scott will occasionally ask them what they would cut. Usually there is silence

That’s one reason Scott deserves credit for putting the state’s fiscal house in order.

And the longtime businessman did follow through on promises by cutting almost 3,000 regulations, paying down $3.5 billion in state debt and paying back another $3.5 billion borrowed from the federal government for unemployment assistance.

Florida’s unemployment rate now is lower than the national average.

In his recent budget address, Scott noted that the state has added almost 500,000 jobs and cut taxes 24 times.

Scott’s budget includes more funding for K-12 education, an area that he initially cut.

He has more funding for the Everglades, restoration of springs, tourism, child protective services and STEM training.

But Scott should have included funding for the St. Johns River; it’s just as important to North and Central Florida as the Everglades is to South Florida.

And Scott doesn’t seem to get the message on using the state’s trust funds for job creation. Affordable housing and transportation trust funds come to mind.

Too often those funds are swept into the general budget.


Florida TaxWatch has noted that Scott’s administration has accepted many of its money-saving suggestions.

However, TaxWatch warns that funding new prisons is a bad step. Florida already has 140 prisons, more than enough. In fact, crime rates are at a 30-year low.

And it’s worth mentioning that local property taxes are paying for most of the increased K-12 funding. Florida has become skilled at offloading expenses on local governments while the Legislature turns home rule into a joke.

A good sign, however, is that school readiness will receive its highest funding increase in a decade. This includes an increase of $100 per child for the state’s Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program.

Scott also is recommending raises for about one-third of the workforce, describing the funding as a bonus for outstanding work.

Smart justice would receive more funding for substance abuse rehab, vocational training and re-entry assistance.

But the governor could take a hard look at business regulations that seem designed more to restrict competition than protect the public.


He doesn’t have to look far. The James Madison Institute recently released a report titled “Florida’s Dirty Dozen,” a list of occupations that are over-regulated in Florida.

The Sunshine State ranks No. 4 in the nation for having burdensome regulations.

“Many of these arbitrary regulations are passed at the request of professional associations and government boards that want to protect the pocketbooks of their members by shutting out new competition,” the report said.

Take these examples:

■ Florida regulates interior decorators as if they were architects, requiring more than 2,100 days of education plus experience to sit for a licensing exam.

■ Florida’s financial burdens on barbers are almost twice the national average. Barbers must complete 1,200 hours of training that can cost $15,000.

■ There are many rules for auctioneers to “combat the phantom evil of nefarious auctioneering.”

■ Cosmetologists must train eight times more than EMTs. Simple services like shampooing often require a license.

■ Travel agents must put up with regulations that are “nonsensical, onerous and unnecessary.” Only eight states regulate travel agents at all.

As the report stated, “The state is not regulating quality, rather its intent is to require potential travel agents to pay before they play.”

Keep regulations when they have a valid purpose but reduce or scrap them when they are simply preventing competition in the open marketplace.


Not mentioned in the James Madison report is the law that keeps greyhound tracks open long after their useful lives.

Florida is among the few states with live greyhound racing; it’s the only way tracks are allowed to run profitable poker rooms.

Decoupling that requirement would allow the poker rooms to exist on their own. There are clear agendas here. Humane groups want to end greyhound racing, while casino opponents fear any expansion of gambling.

However, that is no reason for the state to prop up a failing business.


As government programs go, the state’s trust fund for affordable housing works.

It’s a public-private partnership that creates jobs. If the $291 million available were used, it would create 27,241 jobs and have an economic impact of $3.43 billion.

It avoids bureaucracies by using counties to run the programs.

It has been largely free of scandal and inefficiencies.

Supporters are diverse, ranging from real estate agents and home builders to faith-based groups and nonprofits.

It provides a source for affordable housing that is not being totally addressed by the private market alone.

■ People with disabilities can live independently.

■ Families can move from rentals to home ownership.

■ Low-income families can move out of unsafe and substandard homes.

■ Residents can be helped with disaster recovery, foreclosure and emergency repairs.

Since the construction industry was hit hard by the Great Recession, it would provide jobs to Floridians with low overhead and a tested public-private partnership.

Trust funds must be used the way they were intended.