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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Askew reviews some of his successes as governor

Askew reviews some of his successes as governor, claiming that Florida's challenge is now to act on extant laws and programs rather than create new ones.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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And if I have the privilege of serving for another four years, while I intend to constantly review what we have done, I don't intend to be a caretaker for another four years either. We may not have as many programs because, frankly, we just won't need to do as much as we did before. You know, when you change basically the tax structure of the state, and when you revise the courty system, and we had tremendous . . . you know, it defied our best efforts for twenty-five years . . . and when you put the environmental laws on the books that we did and really substantially changed our allocation of educational funding, you really begin to see that some of our most pressing problems are on their way now. We had no community correctional centers when I became governor, we now have thirty-three, ten more in this budget and two in conversion to prisons. We still have problems, but we have appropriated more money since I have been governor. I have never compared the statistics, but I daresay that you could compile all that we had done for several years back and it would not come close to it. And that was a fairly unpopular thing when I first started talking about it, but I think that people are realizing now that the place to find crime, one of the best places, is within the penal system. We still have some changes that I think must be made within parole and probation. I think that environmentally, we still need to get a better handle on our environmental organization to simplify permitting and also to maximize the utilization of manpower. Fiscally, when I became governor, we had a bad problem. We had a projected two hundred million dollar deficit and we have had surpluses three our of four years. Now, admittedly, we have had an overheated economy nationally and inflation and when you have as much of your base on sales tax, you obviously are going to get more money, but the way that we handled it was important, because we have in effect banked in one way or another, over a hundred million dollars each year as an average over these four years. By putting a hundred and five million in a working capital reserve fund, two hundred and fourteen million we have advanced to interstate construction on advanced construction units with the federal government, which will come back at the end of the decade in the early eighties. A hundred million dollars to front money for a revolving fund for a sewage abatement facilities, so fiscally, we have made a lot of changes. I don't think the need for change will be nearly as great in many areas that we have broken into. Such as housing, where the first time that I suggested it, it met with less than overwhelming reaction by the legislature, and it is now becoming abundantly clear that a state does have an appropriate role. It must move cautiously so as not to over-extend itself, because the state has no business getting into any type of subsidy. Only the federal government can do that. But a lot of what we were going into, workmen's compensation benefits, we had one of the lowest in the nation, and it is up substantially and we've put it on a formula basis. Unemployment was the same way, we don't have it on a formula basis. But the need for change, I don't think, will be as great as it was four years ago. Although, with the growth facing Florida, management of its growth is really going to almost transcend anything else. So, we've got our work cut out for us substantially, but it may be more in the implementation in the right way of what we have on the books right now, with the environmental and water use management act, and to put together its water resources districts all over the state. So, the greater challenge may not be so much in terms of legislation per se, but making work what is on the books. And see if we have any deficiencies, for instance in ethics and disclosure, that should be strengthened and not be hesitant to do it.