Jeff Atwater is the guy nobody knows they elected.
At least, that's how Florida's chief financial officer sees it. The job he holds doesn't quite exist in the 49 other states.
But tasked with oversight of a $70 billion state budget, Atwater sees his position as more vital than ever as the economy tries to mount a recovery from a recession that crippled Florida's revenue line.
And he's taking that message to constituents around the state.
Atwater brought a little humor on his trip to Lakewood Ranch on Friday, tossing a few jabs at the federal government while hinting at better days ahead for Florida.
Addressing a roomful of 150 area business executives, elected officials and community leaders, Atwater said the biggest hurdles preventing Florida from reaching its potential will be Congress and its inability to come to grips with the U.S. debt.
"We still have our struggles, but I wouldn't want to trade places with any other state," Atwater said. "We are making our way through this."
From a career in banking, Atwater began his run in public office as vice mayor of North Palm Beach before a stint in the Florida House and ultimately the state Senate -- where he spent almost a decade, finishing as senate president. He was elected as Florida's CFO in 2010.
Serving in the place of a state treasurer, Atwater's office provides auditing, accounting, bill pay and oversight for Florida's finances.
The state's top revenue line has shrunk from $28 billion in 2006 to $21 billion just three years later, recovering some to a projected $24.5 billion in the coming budget.
Atwater on Friday praised the steps taken by state officials to trim services accordingly during that time. He couldn't say the same for the White House.
Atwater kept pointing to the year 1969. Since that time, federal entitlements grew from 28 percent to 66 percent today, the federal government's participation in the GDP climbed to 24 percent, and the amount of working Americans not paying federal income taxes has swelled from 12 percent to nearly 50 percent, he said.
"What's happened since 1969?" Atwater said. "It's up to us. I know what's going to happen in the next 60 days. I have my pick and my preference. No matter how fine-tuned we are in the state, and here in Manatee-Sarasota, we can't overcome that."
For more on this story, see Bradenton.com later or pick up a copy of Saturday's Bradenton Herald.
Most Popular Stories
- San Francisco Renters Battle Over Conversions
- Guns Are Hot in California
- Kanye West's 'Yeezus' Is Wildly Experimental, Narcissistic
- Small Businesses Hiring, but Worry About Expense
- Social Media in the Public Sector
- El Paso Symposium Offers Help to Startups
- Ex-Mobster to Bulger: Just Say Sorry
- Spill Drill Held at Valdez Oil Terminal
- George Zimmerman Arrest Viewed Differently According to Race
- Jurors will Remain Anonymous in Zimmerman Case, Judge Orders