Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave his second State of the State address Tuesday to a packed House chamber, coinciding with the start of Florida Session which began two months early this year.
Scott addressed Florida citizens and Legislators, citing the issues that were the topics of the 2011 session; education, taxes, state worker pension and Medicaid reform. A balanced budget, job creation and reducing the cost of living in the state.
In 2006, the unemployment rate was 3.3 percent; that percentage increased to 12 percent in December 2010.Scott cited the 135,000 private sector jobs that were created last year, but failed to mention the seven percent in cuts to state workforce that he proposed early last year. “The Legislators in this room…passed and I signed a budget we balanced without raising taxes or fees, despite a revenue shortfall of nearly $4 billion. We did this by making government lean and effective,” Scott said.
Scott urged that the most important tasks to carry over from the past year to the next year were to cut red tape to allow more important work to be accomplished, lower taxes, and to continue the growth of Florida.
Scott said the duties that are most important, as governor are, “ensuring that Floridians are able to gain employment, securing the right to quality education and keeping the cost of living low so that the families and businesses that are in our state can prosper and grow, and the ones that aren’t have even more reason to get here soon. Taxes and regulations are the greatest destroyers of capital and time for small businesses.
One main focus for Scott, which he repeated, was to increase state funding for education, to increase the availability of an educated workforce, which he followed with his recommendation to add an additional $1 billion.
Ciara Taylor, a fourth-year political science student said that one of the things students should watch for this legislative session was education funding, one of the things she feels was negatively impacted in 2011, due to a shifting of funds, not the allocation of more into the system.
He then took a shot at a degree program he moved to remove from institutions in 2011, claiming if people wanted to see the rich cultural history in Florida’s colleges and universities they should “ask any anthropologist.”
Scott also touched on the implementation of system where state employees will pay into their own pension funds. “This will save taxpayers money and align governments practices with the private sector.”
Scott finished his second state of the state address with a message, “know that I’m open to any idea from whatever source that is likely to improve the lives of Floridians.”
House Democratic Leader, Ron Saunders, D-Key West, in response to the governor’s address said, “this Legislature and governor can benefit the Floridians who elected us if we prove that we care more about the next generation and less about the next election.”