The Phoenix Flyer

Advice for Florida’s next governor – Whoever that is

By: - October 30, 2018 3:23 pm
Former Gov.Bob Martinez in Tallahassee today

Former Gov.Bob Martinez in Tallahassee today

Florida has not had a politically divided state government in more than three decades, but that’s what would likely be the case if Democrat Andrew Gillum wins the governor’s race next week and inherits a Republican-led Legislature.

“It’s clearly a challenge,” acknowledged former Governor Bob Martinez on Tuesday.

Martinez would know. He was a Republican from Tampa who was elected governor in 1986, when the Florida House and Senate was controlled by Democrats, a reversal of what could happen if Gillum defeats Republican Ron DeSantis.

“We had six Cabinet members, and they were all Democratic at the same time, so I was the only Republican officeholder statewide, but you learned to adapt,” Martinez said. “You have to work with what’s there. You can’t wish it were different. Reality’s reality.”

The former governor spoke at a press conference held in Tallahassee by Florida TaxWatch. the group released its latest edition of the Governor’s Transition Decision Handbook, a 66-page document filled with information on the prominent issues facing Florida, as well as advice to the next governor-elect from several former governors and lieutenant governors.

Martinez- who serves as committee chairman of the steering committee of TaxWatch that published the handbook – and other Florida TaxWatch officials said the need for their publication has never been more important, considering that neither Gillum nor DeSantis has ever served in state government.

There will be approximately 60 days between Election Day and the Jan. 8 inauguration of the new governor, and the handhook lays out specific details on how the governor-elect should handle that transition period.

Among the prominent issues that the handbook says the governor-elect will need to address: affordable housing, criminal justice, economic development, transportation, insurance and public education.

“I think it’s a good guide of (what) you’ve got to do in order to implement the next 60 days before being sworn in as governor,” Martinez said.

Martinez served only one term in office. His decision to support a 5-percent services tax proposed by the Democratic-led Legislature was considered a political disaster from he never recovered.

Noting how many North Florida counties will continue to be adversely impacted from Hurricane Michael in the coming months, former Democratic state Rep. Alan Williams said the Florida TaxWatch handbook will be essential reading for whomever wins the governor’s race next week.

“We need to make sure that the next governor hits the ground running to make sure those citizens are impacted in a positive way,” he said. “And this document will go a further step in making sure this happens.”

Although the document doesn’t prescribe specific policies, both Martinez and TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic Calabro said one critical thing that needs to happen right away is for the new governor to get a state plane. Outgoing Gov. Rick Scott – a billionaire – sold two official state planes and opted to use his private aircraft instead. Neither Gillum nor DeSantis owns a plane.

“It’s an important tool for the governor because of the fact that we’re a very, very large peninsula,” said Calabro.

“Tallahassee’s pretty far from Key West,” Martinez added.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.