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The chief financial officer is a combination of the former posts of comptroller and treasurer. The CFO manages the treasury and much more, depending on the CFO’s priorities. This one was a hard one to get information on, since it’s not a “major” race. On one side you have Tom Lee, who’s been in the political arena for a while and knows his way around Tallahasse. On the other you have Alex Sink, an ex-president at Bank of America who has also been heavily involved in civic work. She is the wife of Bill McBride, who lost the 2002 Florida Governor’s election to Jeb Bush.
The following comes from Mass High Tech
One of four members of the Florida Cabinet, the CFO oversees the Department of Financial Services (DFS). The CFO also appoints the board of state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp., and each year presents the Florida Legislature with a series of proposed changes in insurance laws.
Democrat Alex Sink is a former Bank of America president for Florida, and had a 25-year career with that bank and predecessor NationsBank. This is her first run for public office. She resides in Thonotosassa, a Tampa suburb.
Republican Tom Lee is a state senator from Brandon. He is president of the Florida Senate, which he has served since 1997. He is president of Sabal Homes of Florida.
What major changes would you make at Citizens Property Insurance Corp., to help reduce it from its current approximately 1.2 million residential policies?
Alex Sink: The starting point, Sink said, would be a performance and management audit of Citizens, to prevent a recurrence of past conflicts of interest and improve its response time on claims. “We need to do that while looking for solutions to bring the private market back to writing policies in Florida.”
Tom Lee: “I would undertake an aggressive effort to depopulate Citizens. We have to provide outlets for these policies to be picked up at reasonable rates for homeowners.” He also favors increasing Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund coverage on claims for insurance companies that take policies out of the Citizens pool.
How can we increase the number of insurance companies that write property policies in Florida, and curb higher premiums?
Alex Sink: Sink would consider expanding the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund’s maximum size, with the hope that increasing it would attract more insurers. That would require the issuance of more state-backed bonds. She said officials of several insurance companies told her they favor that kind of expansion. Sink would consider keeping the Commercial Joint Underwriting Association as a “backstop” for businesses.
Tom Lee: Some insurers, Lee said, would have incentive to write more policies and help lower premiums if “we deregulated some of the policy requirements we have in our state.” That would include letting homeowners choose buffet-style coverage. Commercial properties are more diverse than homes and could “allow insurance companies to develop products for a multitude of business needs.”
How can the CFO help create a national or a regional catastrophe fund, in which insurance companies set aside money for claims?
Alex Sink: “We cannot give up on the idea of a national cat fund, which requires knocking on a lot of doors in Congress.” The chances would be greater, Sink said, for Florida and other coastal states to set up a regional catastrophe fund in which insurers’ reserves would be used to help pay claims in any of the states.
Tom Lee: “I think a national cat fund is a great idea.” But getting members of Congress from non-coastal states to agree “is asking them to be less parochial than I have seen them in the past. There may be more hope for a regional cat fund,” in which CFO, insurance commissioner and Legislature reach agreements with other states.
Pro Alex Sink:
Gnorb’s Impressions: In this post, the outgoing man is Tom Gallagher. If you liked how he did things, vote for Tom Lee as his successor. If you don’t like how he did things, vote for Alex Lee. Both are capable and well qualified for the job. Sink has a lot more experience with money, which means she knows how to handle a budget. Lee has a lot of experience with Tallahassee politics, which means he’ll know how to get things done.