Of his accomplishments in the Legislature, Pruitt says he is
most proud of his sponsorship of the Florida Bright Futures
scholarships, a Lottery-funded program that has given more
than 140,000 students funding for college since its creation in
It was a great nod to education for someone whose formal
education was limited to water treatment courses he took at
Indian River Community College. Despite his confident manner,
Pruitt says he is intimidated by those around him with
“I work around some of the most intelligent people in the
country. Sen. Dave Aronberg has a Harvard degree, and we
have professional staff who are graduates of Yale. Most of the
people I’m surrounded by have Ph.D.s. My success in life has
been that I’ve always surrounded myself by people who are a
lot smarter than I am.’’
The 35-year-old Aronberg, the Democrat minority whip and
a rising star in the Senate, says Pruitt possesses wisdom that
transcends any need for a degree.
“The difference is that I may have a degree, but that degree
sits on a wall in an office with no windows,’’ Aronberg says.
“He’s the Senate president. The degree can only take you so
far. That President Pruitt has made so much of himself and
done so well is a tribute to his innate intellect, work ethic and
ability to lead. I’ve got a lot to learn from Ken Pruitt.’’
HARD TO STUMP
Sen. Mike Fasano, who has known Pruitt since Fasano
arrived in the House in 1994, says he can’t remember a time
when Pruitt was stumped by a legislative issue.
“I myself am a high school dropout who went back later
and got my GED,’’ Fasano says. “I understand how he feels.
He amazes me at his knowledge of the issues. I’ve seen him in
meetings in which whatever issue comes up, either by staff or
members, he’s right on top of it. For a person who’s dealing
with so many issues, I’ve never seen him yet not be able to
respond or show he’s knowledgeable. He does a lot of reading
and takes his work home with him.’’
Pruitt says he arrives at the Senate office about 7 a.m. and
spends the first hour writing notes to Senate staff and constituents.
He usually leaves after nightfall, often taking work
home with him. Known as a prolific note-writer, Pruitt says he
couldn’t even guess how many notes he’s sent out since being
sworn in as president in January. On a recent day, his count
Pruitt, who earns $41,000 annually as Senate president,
spends about half the year living in Tallahassee. While in the
House and Senate, he commuted by car. But as Senate president
he can take advantage of a state plane that shuttles him
and other state officials on weekends.
Pruitt credits his parents with instilling his work ethic. His
father, a Marine in the Korean War, was a heavy equipment
operator. His mother was a waitress. His mom died at the age
of 43 and his dad, now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, is
in a veterans nursing home in Lake City.
“They were part of the greatest generation, where you never
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