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Job cuts underway at corrections department

By Trimmel Gomes

Tallahassee, FL – Governor Rick Scott paid a visit to the state Department of Corrections a place where he has already eliminated at least 15 administrators. As Florida Public Radio's Trimmel Gomes reports, the governor got a chance to hear concerns from agency employees.

In the DOC parking lot surrounded by hundreds department employees, Scott opened the floor for questions, and some were direct.

"I have seen where our staff has been significantly cut, we are required to do more with less state employees, we haven't received a raise in five or six years. You're asking us to contribute to our pension plan and more for insurance. My question is simple: What have you asked the wealthiest Floridians to contribute to the state deficit."

The question drew some applause and Scott answered by looking to the private sector.

"If you just look at the expectations in the private sector, you are expected to be more productive every year. Now there are ways to be more productive. You can be more productive because you learn more. You can be more productive because you have better technology. But that's just an inherent expectation."

Scott went on to point out that in the private sector, your overhead has to come down each and every year as percentage of revenues- he says that has not happened in state government. He also reiterated his focus on making the state attractive for businesses.

"Everything that we do, to make it harder on business people, that just means that's going to be fewer jobs in Florida, fewer jobs for our kids, and less money to do the things we want to do. I believe if we create the environment where people want to move their companies here, expand their companies here, and start their companies here, then we will grow and we can afford to have the government that we want."

With just over a week in Florida, Scott's newly appointed Chief Edwin Buss, who hails from Indiana's corrections agency, says he's used to doing more with less. And he's already started with staff cutbacks.

"We will streamline from the top first. You may realize, we've already done at the top. The people who directly report to me, they've been cut by a third, we're not going to fill those positions. It would be hypocritical if I didn't start with my direct reports and my staff."

While in Indiana Buss cut a thousand jobs to Indians prison system which is smaller than Florida's. Bus says he's not sure of the exact number for future job reductions until he gets a chance to settle in to his job.Scott has called for streamlining the agency and cutting close to 1700 positions.