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Scott, Cabinet members likely gather for final time

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet, which has seen only a single change in the past eight years, engaged in a little self-recognition as they wrapped up work Tuesday. 

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the only member of the Cabinet returning in January, highlighted changes in the state since 2011 as he recognized the actions of Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam -- from job creation and navigating hurricanes to fighting human trafficking and the opioid crisis.

While the Cabinet in recent years has met less frequently than prior incarnations and has spent large amounts of time on ceremonial matters, Putnam said “this is an organization that has really come together” and has “left the state better than we found it” when he, Scott and Bondi were elected in 2010 and took office in early 2011.

“It’s kind of a weird beast, but it works,” Putnam said. “And it works because we build the trust and the respect for each other to be able to get great things done for the state that we all love.”

He added, “Every time we have a Cabinet meeting, I’m just so humbled. We get law enforcement members in here, first responders, fire service, National Guardsmen who save lives. We get teachers who shape lives. We get linemen, who restore our lives in our darkest hour. We get businesses who create jobs.”

Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting may be the last time the lineup is together.

A meeting of the state clemency board, made up of Scott and the Cabinet members, was scheduled for Wednesday but was postponed as Scott plans to attend funeral services for former President George H.W. Bush in Washington.

Scott was elected last month to the U.S. Senate, while Putnam lost a Republican primary in August for governor.

Bondi is term-limited and has not announced her plans. Republican Ron DeSantis will be sworn in as governor on Jan. 8.

Republican Ashley Moody will replace Bondi, and Democrat Nikki Fried will take over as agriculture commissioner.

Patronis, who won a four-year term in the Nov. 6 election, was named last year by Scott to replace former state CFO Jeff Atwater.

Atwater joined Scott, Bondi and Putnam in winning statewide elections in 2010 and 2014 but left last year for a job at Florida Atlantic University.