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Governor visits JaxPort looking for budget support

Gov. Scott highlights transportation investments

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Rick Scott is crossing the state to campaign for his budget proposal for this spring's legislative session.

Scott gathered business and union leaders at the Jacksonville Port Authority Monday afternoon to talk about the $10 billion investment he proposes for transportation, including $178 million targeted for Florida's 15 seaports -- $15 million for JaxPort.

"We've invested over a billion dollars in our ports so far, and what have we gotten? We got a lot more jobs. It's probably the biggest job generator we have in the state. With the expansion of the Panama Canal, the economies of Latin America, we have a big opportunity," Scott said. "We have been investing in JaxPort, and we have to continue to invest."

According to a recent report from the Florida Ports Council, Florida’s seaports are responsible for $117.6 billion in economic activity, supporting nearly 900,000 jobs, $40 billion in personal income and $4.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.

"Since 2008, job creation supported by JaxPort has grown tremendously and today, we are proud to support more than 130,000 jobs throughout northeast Florida. This incredible growth would not have been possible without the governor’s commitment to making investments in our port and the area's transportation system," said Jim Citrano, chairman of JaxPort. 

Brian Taylor, CEO of JaxPort, echoed that thought during Monday's event.

"The more we do to invest in this port, the more we do to invest in the deepening project to allow those bigger ships to come (and) the more jobs we can create year after year in the future," Taylor said.

Vince Cameron, president of the International Longshoremen's Association, said the investment's impact can't be measured yet, but he predicts a big boom soon. 

"We've got all the infrastructure, we just need a deeper river to complete the picture," Cameron said. "That's been the obstacle holding this up. But once it's done, then everybody will be like remember when. we're looking forward to that."

Calling this his "Fighting for Florida budget," Scott told people that if they agreed with supporting the port, they should contact their state lawmakers. 

Scott's budget proposal also includes more than $100 million for veterans in the state and cutting $618 million in taxes.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.