Forbes has run several articles on the problems facing Rick Scott. The latest, in the Jan 2012 print edition of the magazine, points out that Florida is facing a massive $2 billion budget deficit. And while Forbes states that “Nobody knows for sure how to pull off the economic turnaround”, the reality is that any sustained economic turnaround is going to have to include cuts to the budget.
The question at hand is how Gov. Scott will create the political support for these cuts. Forbes asserts at Gov Scott has used up his goodwill by slashing pay, privatizing services, and changing pensions. These actions have left him “more despised an ever”, with a “measly 29%” voter approval rating; this does not position him to make the changes he needs.
To improve his chances for success, Gov. Scott has been making some straightforward cosmetic changes: new executive advisers, working harder at public relations, and even including good old fashioned “workdays”, where he can demonstrate solidarity with common folks by working the same kinds of jobs that they work. And while some of this is likely helping, in much the same way that icing can help improve the taste of a flat cake, it won’t work. We know that only eating cake isn’t going to provide the nutritional value that sustains us in good health, and Floridians are smart enough to know that PR stunts and dinners with lawmakers won’t give them the budget changes that are needed.
Instead of carefully controlled conversations with a few constituents, Gov. Scott should follow the ground-breaking leaders of San José, CA, who have been using a specially designed version of Innovation Games® to engage ordinary citizens in making key budget decisions (see 2011 plans, results, testimonials, press). These games would allow Floridians to engage in substantive debates about how to actually prioritize the budget. In the process, Gov. Scott would find that the games cut across the simplistic labels of Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Tea Party that too often get in the way of real political progress. Instead of stalemates, he’d find that ordinary citizens are eager to be engaged as adults who are capable of making tough choices.
More importantly, Gov. Scott would find that this process creates the foundation for an ongoing dialog with citizens. On Saturday, January 21, 2012, we’re going to be playing our second round of games with the citizens of San José, CA. These games are going to be tackling some very tough issues (details coming soon). And like our first round of games in 2011, we’re proud to say that we’ve been able to provide all of our services, and the services of more than 30 professional facilitators, completely free of charge. Yup. 100% pro-bono services. Citizens helping other citizens.
Gov. Scott, when you’re ready to play the kinds of games that will help you transform Florida, give us a call. We’d be glad to enlist our growing community of Innovation Gamers to help you make the substantive changes needed to help Florida succeed.