Q&A with: Mike Hansen
Mike Hansen is the recently appointed director for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
An avid runner, Hansen, 59, worked in Miami-Dade County in the 1970s in the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. He also worked at state agencies in Tallahassee before moving to the Legislature and then into the governor’s Office of Planning and Budgetingunder former Gov. Jeb Bush. Before being tapped by Gov. Rick Scott to lead APD, Hansen was theSenate Health and Human Services budget director. About 30,000 clients are served by APD Medicaid programs and Hansen — who has been at APD since the summer — says he has a spreadsheet in his office detailing who the clients are and the services they get. He looks at it regularly. He appears before the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee this Thursday for a confirmation hearing.
You went from Senate staff director for the Health and Human Services budget to director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. How did that occur?
“I was approached over a period of time. It wasn’t a one-time deal. People started talking to me from the governor’s office and started asking me questions. It was over a several months period of time which started during the session. Of course in the position I was in, I did not want to really entertain an employment opportunity that could be construed that I made some decision in my previous job that would impact my decision. So the initial response was ‘I am not going to be interested in talking about this.’ Of course I was able to think about it over that period of time . …. In my line of work your position is good the day you are in it. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring. I am never in the habit of saying to someone ‘I would never consider doing that’ because who knows where you are going to be tomorrow? Who knows what you are going to have to deal with the next day? Who knows what the situation is going to be? As time went on, I had more time to think about it and the offer was very generous, very kind. It was ‘We need you to help us figure out how to make this agency work better.’ ”
Given the fact that the program is bigger than the appropriation — it’s a $900 million program with an $810 million budget — and it’s been bedeviled by budget crises, were you concerned about taking the position?
“Well, I did talk to the governor about that and basically said, ‘If you are going to evaluate me at the end of the first year as having brought the agency’s budget in line with the appropriation, I don’t feel like I can achieve that goal. So if that is your expectation, I am not the right guy for this job.’ I think I can make strides, I think I can move in the right direction, but I think it’s going to take longer than 12 months and I think there’s a lot of legwork that has to be done to figure out exactly what it would take to get there. If getting to that number means jeopardizing the health and safety of our clients, I’m not interested in getting to that number, and I know the governor is not interested in getting to that number, and I don’t think the Legislature is interested in getting to that number if that’s what it means.
“But there is a belief out there that money is being spent in a way that it can be more wisely spent and that is clearly my belief as well. We can do a better job of utilizing these resources. And that is what we are about trying to do and trying to figure out how we do that. If they