In State of the State, Guv says policies won’t make him “Most Popular,” but pledges “jobs budget” and business-friendly government.
Florida Governor Rick Scott Delivers State of the State Address
Appeals to Legislature to reduce the size, scope, cost of government and
return tax savings to taxpayers
State of the State Address
March 8, 2011
Remarks prepared for delivery.
President Haridopolos, Speaker Cannon, Chief Justice Canady, members of the
Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet, members of the Legislature, my fellow
Floridians: It is an honor to appear before this body for the first time as
Governor of the Great State of Florida.
I want to recognize our Lt Governor, Jennifer Carroll, and her husband
Nolan. The new first lady of Florida is here, who’s been my first lady for
38 years, Ann Scott.
Tonight we are honored to be joined by General Titshaw, members of the
Florida National Guard, and Florida soldiers and airmen who have returned
from duty abroad. We are safe and comfortable here tonight because men and
women like them stand guard in hard and dangerous places.
There are many humbling moments in life, but none more so than visiting with
a wounded warrior, seeing the sacrifice and the courage. And we are joined
tonight by two of those brave men who received the Purple Heart for their
service: Staff Sergeant Alberto D. Porro and Air Force Staff Sergeant
Christopher “Mark” McDuffie.
We are also honored by the presence of Phillip and Maureen Miller, the
parents of Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller, a Special Forces soldier who
gave his life serving our country in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Miller was awarded the Medal of Honor for giving his life so
that his fellow team members could move out of an ambush kill zone. His
courage is an inspiration to all of us.
On behalf of the people of Florida, we thank all of you for your service.
We also want to recognize the bravery and the sacrifices of our law
enforcement officers here in Florida. In the last two months, six public
safety officers have lost their lives serving our state in the line of duty,
including three brave men in St. Petersburg in just one month.
We’re honored tonight by the presence of Donna Malloy and her daughter
Payton, the family of Colonel Greg Malloy, who laid down his life just a few
weeks ago, while hunting down a fugitive. Thank you, for joining us here
tonight and representing the families of our fallen law enforcement heroes.
We honor their memory and pray that God will comfort their families.
We gather tonight at a momentous time in our state’s history. Bold reforms
Thousands of our fellow Floridians have assembled here in our Capital – some
to criticize our budget priorities, and far more to thank us for our
willingness to make hard choices.
For years, politicians have not dared to face the full extent of our
financial problems. Politics prevailed, even when the numbers did not add
up. All the cans that have been kicked down the road are now piled up in
front of us. Floridians have been encouraged to believe that government
could take care of us.
But government always takes more than it gives back.
Some thought that businesses could tolerate a strangling web of regulations,
and that government could grow without starving the private sector or
destroying jobs. The result of that experiment is in: Government grew way
beyond its ability to pay for its promises, and the jobs disappeared.
The first step to better times is acknowledging that government cannot
afford what some have come to expect.
Doing what must be done will not make me “Most Popular,” but I’m determined
to make Florida “Most Likely to Succeed.”
On my first day in office, I ordered a review of every regulation in the
pipeline and every contract exceeding $1 million.
These steps sent two clear signals. First, that Florida will not allow
unreasonable regulations to stand in the way of job creation. And second,
that we intend to watch state spending like a hawk. On my watch we will
never allow another wasteful project like the “Taj Mahal” Courthouse to slip
under the radar.
We also sold the state airplanes as I had promised to do. And we created the
most fiscally conservative state budget in the country.
Our “jobs” budget is targeted to create private sector jobs, increase
accountability and reduce the size of government.
Every day since elected Governor, I’ve gone job hunting for the people of
Florida. In my business career I was never shy about picking up the phone
and making a cold call to try to make something good happen. As Governor,
I’ve been making those calls every day to recruit job creators, and I will
continue making those calls until every Floridian has the opportunity to get
back to work.
As we meet tonight, unemployment in Florida stands at 12 percent. While this
legislative session is a regular session, it is, in many ways, an emergency
For the 1.1 million Floridians who are out of work, this is an emergency.
They are running out of options. The unemployed have heard enough talk.
They’re saying, “Show me the jobs.”
And tonight, I am here to show you some new jobs. We have a long way to go,
but we’re on our way.
Joining us tonight are four business leaders: one who decided to move a
business to Florida, and three who decided to expand their business here.
I’d like to recognize them now.
Armand Lauzon is president of Chromalloy, an aviation parts manufacturing
company that just opened a new, manufacturing plant in Tampa and created 400
jobs in Hillsborough County.
And we’re also joined tonight by David Meers, the Chief Operating Officer of
Vision Airlines, a company that helps put tourists onto Florida’s beaches.
Vision recently began flying to 23 cities from Destin less than a year after
the economic damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
In Southwest Florida, Rheinhold Schmieding is founder and president of
Arthrex, manufacturer of state-of-the-art medical devices. Tonight he’s here
to announce that Arthrex is breaking ground on a 160,000-square-foot
facility that will create 150 new jobs every year for the next five years.
And finally, Dean Minardi, CFO of Bing Energy, is here with us. Bing Energy,
a California-based company, was courted by offers from several other states.
Bing decided to come to Florida in December.
The reason Florida won? Mr. Minardi said it was our plan to eliminate the
These leaders, like me, share a positive view of Florida’s economic
potential. On behalf of the people of Florida, I want to thank all of you
for your faith in Florida’s future.
I urge every member of the Legislature to join me in making job recruitment
a daily task. I want to encourage each of you to become a “Jobs Ambassador”
and direct new prospects to me, so we can work together to recruit potential
Ask Florida business owners, “What can we do to help you expand your
Ask business leaders around the world, “Why not move to Florida?”
Last July I submitted a detailed plan to the people of Florida to create
700,000 jobs over seven years. They reviewed the plan and voted to enact it.
Last month, I delivered to you a budget that puts that plan into action and
cuts taxes by $2 billion. These tax cuts put money back in the hands of
families and business owners who will grow private sector jobs.
An important priority in our “jobs” budget is to consolidate government’s
economic development efforts into a single, highly focused agency. Working
with our public-private partner, we will have the resources to be effective,
and the flexibility to adapt to particularly promising opportunities. This
agency will be headquartered two doors down from my office, and its work
will never be far from my mind.
I come to the job of Governor after a 35-year career in the private sector.
I want to use that business experience on behalf of the people of Florida.
I’m asking this legislature and the people of Florida to give me the tools
and hold me accountable for results.
Our “jobs” budget makes sure government is held accountable for every
spending decision. And by focusing on the core missions of government – and
only the core missions – this budget will give Florida a competitive edge in
I know the members of this body have thoughtful, constructive modifications
to our “jobs” budget.
But we must not lose our focus or blunt our momentum.
Business people in Florida and around the world are watching what we do in
the weeks ahead. They can locate anywhere. They will be deciding whether to
invest in Florida, based, in part, on our ability to work together to remove
the obstacles to business success. I am convinced that putting this plan
into action will put our state on the road to prosperity.
On behalf of the millions of Floridians who are desperate for new jobs, I
ask you to pass our “jobs” budget promptly.
We also need to focus on our incredible opportunity to improve our
K-through-12 education system. We now have real innovators offering a 21st
century approach to education. And many of those new approaches offer better
outcomes without increasing costs.
With so many Floridians out of work, and the exhaustion of one-time federal
handouts, Florida educators will face challenges in managing limited
resources. But our commitment to positive change must not waiver.
Let’s begin by agreeing on a few basic principles.
First, that individual student learning must be the touchstone for all our
decisions. Practices that improve student learning must be adopted.
Practices that impair student learning must be abolished.
Second, I think we can all also agree that the single most important factor
in student learning is the quality of teaching. Florida has to recruit,
train, support and promote great teachers, great school principals and great
Great educators are priceless. Every one of us has a teacher in our past who
made a lifelong difference in our lives. Educators, like other
professionals, should be rewarded based on the effectiveness of their work,
not the length of their professional life. That’s why Florida needs to pay
the best educators more and end the practice of guaranteeing educators a job
for life regardless of their performance.
The third principle worth remembering is that we all improve through
competition. Think of how exciting it will be when schools are recruiting
our children, when every school in the state focuses on continual
improvement in order to outperform every other school in attracting
students. We need to expand the eligibility for opportunity scholarships to
harness the power of engaged parents.
And I am calling for an increase in the number of charter schools – which
are public schools that are allowed to work independently of their school
board and can innovate in ways that encourage all schools to improve.
With us here today is the principal of a very successful charter school –
Sonia Mitchell of Florida International Academy. This charter school moved
from an “F” school to an “A” school. Ms. Mitchell attributes their success
to the passion of great educators and weekly measurements of student
And finally, we can all agree that measuring results is a key aspect of
education. We must test our students, and we must evaluate our educators.
Those measurements need to be fair and thoughtful, and they need to have
rewards and consequences.
We must also analyze how much education money is spent in the classroom
versus the amount spent on administration or capital outlays.
With these principles in mind, Florida can become the most innovative and
effective place in the country to educate the workforce of the future.
In other areas where government has a role to play, we are offering
cost-conscious reforms. Most Floridians have had to tighten their belts. The
state needs to do the same thing.
We are streamlining the functions of state agencies to save money and
provide better service for taxpayers. Reviewing every activity in every
agency with a fresh eye, we are simplifying the structure of state
For example, I have asked the Division of Emergency Management to report
directly to me. If a hurricane comes our way, I will be personally and
continuously engaged in solving problems. Direct, clear lines of authority
will expedite our efforts.
We will also modernize our state government. Florida is currently the only
state where taxpayers pay for the entire pension of state workers. We need
to secure the state’s pension system and be fair to the taxpayers of
Florida. We will bring Florida’s retirement system in line with other states
by having government workers contribute towards their own retirement, just
like everyone else.
Providing a modern, health care safety net for our low-income and disabled
citizens is an important state function, but the costs of this program have
been spiraling out of control. Yet there are ways to save money and provide
better care by adopting market principles and giving patients more choice.
Unfortunately, the federal government requires Florida to get approval
before expanding the use of these innovative, cost-saving programs. The
federal government seems to forget that federal revenues were recently the
hard earned dollars of Floridians. But, with or without the cooperation of
the federal government, we will find a way to meet these health care needs
without jeopardizing other priorities.
Another government program with good intentions and potentially dangerous
side-effects is our system of unemployment compensation. In times of high
unemployment, the system provides a critical safety net. But its rising
costs, which are borne by the very employers who are struggling to stay in
business, threaten to create even more job losses.
The costs of unemployment insurance cannot be allowed to deter job creation.
By working with the legislature, we will bring those costs down.
And finally, we need lawsuit reform.
Every Floridian should have access to the courts for redress of harm. At the
same time, we can’t allow frivolous suits and unreasonable awards to give
our state a reputation that frightens away new jobs.
I ask everyone to look beyond the short-term and imagine with me what
Florida will be like once we turn our state around. Florida will be the
leading job creator over the next eight years.
With no income tax, a phase out of the business tax, the expansion of the
Panama Canal, the expansion of the economies of Central and South America,
our beautiful weather, our beaches, the Everglades, world-class theme parks,
Florida oranges, our universities and colleges, and the hardest working
people in the world, Florida will become the most exciting place to live
work and play.
With more than 700,000 new jobs, families will be able to build their own
version of the American dream with the security of steady employment
opportunities. Entrepreneurs will create a business climate that continually
offers new goods and services. State government will be smart, lean,
affordable and focused only on its core missions.
Let me close with this: It’s a rare blessing in life to be in a position to
improve the lives of millions of people. The leaders in this room have the
power to make that kind of difference. We have a unique opportunity to put
government back in its proper place and show the nation how private-sector
growth leads to prosperity.
Such a moment may not come again.
My “jobs” budget has plenty of critics. Some critics are accustomed to big
government and will fight to protect special interests, and there are others
who agree on our policy but say that our agenda is too bold – that we need
to trim the sails of our imagination and settle for small improvements.
I did not fight to become the 45th Governor of the greatest state in the
nation to settle for a status quo that does not promote the enormous
potential of our people. I am completely committed to this mission. It is
A vast majority of legislators were elected, as I was, on our promise of
smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation, support for job creation,
individual opportunity, individual accountability, and more freedom.
Don’t blink. Don’t let special interests persuade you to turn your back on
the people who elected you.
Keep faith with the Floridians who supported you because you said, “I
believe in the American Dream.” Remember their faces when you decide what to
do in the weeks ahead.
Working together we can do incredible things if we stand together with the
courage of our convictions.
Ronald Reagan once described America as a place “Unimpressed with what
others say is impossible.” I think that’s especially true about Florida.
We are a state that has regularly done the impossible. We build magic
kingdoms. We launch ships that fly to the moon. Florida can be the place
where the American Dream continues to be a reality.
The world is watching, and God is watching over us. Our success will be the
model for the nation.
With new jobs and an education system full of new energy, we’ll plot the
course for a brighter future. May God bless our great state and all of you.
Let’s get to work!
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