Rick Scott heads to Paris despite special session

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Gov. Rick Scott jetted off to Paris on Friday for a whirlwind visit ahead of an international air show where state officials hope to lure more business back to the Sunshine State.

The trip is Scott’s 11th abroad since he became governor in 2011, but the first of his second term. His last international trip was to Japan in November 2013.

This particular sojourn, however, comes at a delicate time, when the Florida Legislature is trying to wrap up work on a new state budget. Legislators must pass a budget by the end of June in order to avoid a partial shutdown of state government. Many of Scott’s top priorities are linked to the budget, although it looks like lawmakers have settled already on key items such as tax cuts and a boost in school funding.

The Republican governor’s staff noted that due to the ongoing budget negotiations, he is going to take a shorter trip than originally planned, returning Monday. They also say he moved several of his planned meetings to this weekend. The Paris Air Show runs from June 15 to June 20.

“Gov. Scott is confident this economic development trip will result in job creation for Florida,” spokeswoman Jeri Bustamante said.

Florida, with its mix of airports and military installations, is a leading state in the nation when it comes to the aerospace industry.

A spokeswoman for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm, said Friday that the organization did not have a complete list of people who were flying across the Atlantic on the trade mission. But first lady Ann Scott is joining her husband on the trip. The expenses of Scott and his wife are paid with private donations given to Enterprise Florida, not tax dollars.

In 2012 and 2013, Scott took trade mission trips to Paris and London for air shows held in France and the United Kingdom. Enterprise Florida said that 17 companies from the state are participating in the Paris show in hopes of expanding their businesses’ footprints abroad.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.