President Barack Obama will be visiting PortMiami Friday to talk about the economy. Gov. Rick Scott, meanwhile, is asking the federal government to repay Florida for the money it has spent on port improvements.
Although Scott often criticizes the federal government for spending too much, he says this is different.
"We're doing the right things here, they need to do the right things,” Scott said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Right now they ought to reimburse us the money we're spending on our ports because we know it's going to create jobs, so we can even create more jobs."
The state gave PortMiami $77 million to help pay for a $180 million dredging project, which will allow larger cargo ships to dock at the port. PortMiami originally looked to the federal government for the funds before Scott and the state legislature stepped in with the money 2011.
Expansion projects like the deep dredge are important for Florida ports to stay competitive, said PortMiami Director Bill Johnson.
“There's a system of 15 ports in the state of Florida, deep water ports,” said Johnson, who added that international trade is a key driver of the state's economy.
PortMiami and several other ports up the East Coast are dredging in order to accommodate larger cargo ships that will be coming out a newly deepened Panama Canal in 2015.