Gov. Rick Scott delivered his constitutionally mandated State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature.
Here are his remarks, as prepared to be delivered.
Thank you so much for being here today.
Iespecially want to thank President of the Senate Don Gaetz and Speakerof the House Will Weatherford. These are men of faith devoted to helpingFlorida families. Like everyone in this chamber, they are committed tohelping our state and investing in future generations. They are mypartners. They are my friends; and they are dedicated public servants.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll - thank you for your work on behalf of our state.
Thank you also to Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston, and members of the Court.
AttorneyGeneral Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, andAgriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam - thank you for your service.
Thank you, Senators and Representatives for your focus on Florida families.
And, I want to thank the love of my life and beautiful wife of 40 years, Ann, for being here.
Mydaughters Allison and Jordan; and my son-in-law, Jeremy, are also here.I am proud to say that both of our daughters are expecting newadditions to our family. And, my little grandson, Auguste, is about tobe a big brother. I love being a Grandpa.
This is now thethird time I have addressed you to report on the state of the GreatState of Florida; and, after two years of hard work, this update can besummed up in two words: It's working.
Two years ago, we met together facing crippling debt, record-high unemployment and a downward spiral of job losses.
Today,because of the tireless work of the men and women in this room, ourbusinesses are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, and ourunemployment rate is nearly down to the national average; and we aren'tstopping there.
Two years ago, we knew we had been called here to make the difficult choices to help Florida families get back to work.
Together, we faced these challenges head on.
We cut taxes...
We eliminated thousands of regulations on job creators...
We paid down state debt for two years in a row...
We invested in priorities - like education...
And, now our economy is on the rebound.
Becausewe made the hard choices over the last two years, we are able to makethe smart choices to keep our economy growing this year.
Wehave a projected budget surplus for the first time in six years. Ourchallenges are different in this budget, but our goal is absolutely thesame. That goal is economic growth and job creation.
Thisyear, we have two priorities to keep our economy growing: first - removethe sales tax on manufacturing equipment, and second - invest in ourteachers by providing them a well-deserved pay raise.
OurFlorida Families First budget supports these priorities whilemaintaining substantial reserves. This is responsible stewardship oftaxpayer money. ...Washington, DC could learn a few budget lessons fromFlorida. The contrast between our state and the nation's capital isremarkable.
Now is not the time to turn back to the legacyof taxing and borrowing that crippled the economy we inherited two yearsago. We must stay the course for economic growth and job creation.
WhenI ran for Governor, it was the first time I ever ran for any electedoffice. I spent a career in business, not politics. From my experience, Iknew that our primary job was to move Florida's economy out of the redand into the black. We needed to cut spending, pay down debt, andsupport job-creators.
What we needed to do then was simple, and in many ways remains the same today.
Why we need to do it is more clear, and personal, to me now more than ever.
Asmany of you know, Ann and I both lost parents in the last year. My Mom,Esther, was one of the only constants in my life. Even after I movedaway from home and joined the Navy, we communicated every week. We wouldwrite letters, and talk on the phone if we could, but we never let aweek go by without being in touch.
I am grateful for thelessons I learned from my parents' sacrifices. They often had troublemaking ends meet, so we moved for them to find work. I remember my Momwould sometimes take on second jobs, like ironing, just so we could buygroceries.
In spite of my Mom's own struggles...including getting a divorce frommy birth father at a young age and almost giving me up for adoptionafter I was born...my Mom was an incredible optimist.
She was an encourager.
She told us to dream big.
MyMom never went to college, but for her own children, getting a greateducation was not an option. Our education was so important to my Mom,she didn't just talk about it; she showed up.
Mom somehow made it to every one of my graduations - even when it meant she had to travel far away.
Idon't know how she found the money, but she came to freezing Chicagofor my boot camp graduation, and Dallas for law school graduation.
Mymom - the wife of a WWII veteran - had a simple formula for raisingkids. We had to go to church - a lot, do well in school, and get a job.She taught us that, in America, hard work plus sacrifice means youcould make your dreams come true.
The longer I live, the more I am convinced that my Mom was right - not just for our family, but for every family.
Why are we so focused on creating jobs and improving education?
Why do we focus on putting Florida families first in our budget?
Because every Florida family wants not just to dream, but to have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.
Likemy mom's formula, our formula this session is simple. We must invest inour education system, support our teachers; and cut taxes to helpcreate more jobs.
Our work to cut spending and live within our means over the last two years has allowed us to once again invest in education.
The workers of tomorrow are in Florida classrooms today.
WhenI first stood before you in 2011, I said, "The single most importantfactor in student learning is the quality of teaching."
Since that time, we eliminated teacher tenure. We signed performance pay into law, and it will take effect in 2014.
Florida'seducation system is making tremendous progress, due in large part toour great teachers and the work begun by Governor Bush and many in thislegislature.
Our students and teachers were recently ranked sixth for educationalquality; and our fourth-graders scored among the highest in the world ona recent reading evaluation.
Accountability is working.
The best way we can build on this progress is to reward our hard-working teachers with a $2,500 pay raise.
Somesay they are afraid that giving raises to all teachers may mean that ateacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But, thanks to our work, we arenow in a better position than ever before to reward good teachers andmove bad teachers out of the classroom.
We don't want a war on teachers; we want a war on failure.
An investment in Florida teachers is an investment in Florida's future.
Teachers change lives.
GrecoMiddle School teacher, Elizabeth Heli, is here today from Tampa. Willyou please stand? Elizabeth began her career as an engineer, but decidedshe wanted to share her passion for science by teaching it. Please joinme in a round of applause to honor her service.
OrangeCounty School District Superintendent Barbara Jenkins is also here.Barbara will you please stand so we can honor your commitment to theteachers in your district and your dedication to student achievement.
Thank you, Elizabeth and Barbara, for the work you do to help make dreams come true for the next generation of Floridians.
I want to ask all of you to stop and think of your favorite teacher.
Likeme, you all are probably here today thanks to a great teacher whobelieved in you. Will you please stand now in honor of that greatteacher?
Please join me in a round of applause to honor the teachers represented here - and every teacher across our state.
In total, our budget increases K-12 education funding by more than $1.2 billion.
This billion dollar commitment builds on our billion dollar investment in K-12 education last year.
Ourtotal education investment of $10.7 billion in state funding for K-12schools this year is the highest state funding level in Florida history.
This represents an increase of more than $400 in per student funding over the current fiscal year.
I am asking for your help to make this historic commitment to education funding a reality for Florida families.
Getting a great education helps dreams come true...and those dreams are almost always jobs.
That is why our formula for success focuses on education...and, jobs.
Two years ago, Florida was losing jobs and many families were losing their dreams.
In the four years before I took office, Florida lost more than 825,000 jobs.
Unemployment more than tripled - from 3.5% to 11.1% over those four years.
State debt increased over those four years by $5.2 billion.
Our housing market had collapsed.
Our economy was off track and our families were hurting.
The shortsighted policies of borrowing on our future had led to disaster.
Together - we fought to cut spending, cut taxes and pay down debt.
Ourunemployment rate has now dropped by more than 3 percentage points fromtwo years ago - the second biggest drop in the country. We are now at7.9 percent unemployment - a 4-year low. And, we aren't stopping there.
We have cut state debt by $2 billion.
Housing starts are up again, and consumer confidence is rebounding.
Oureconomy has created around 200,000 new private sector jobs in the lasttwo years....meaning that thousands of Florida families now have theopportunity to pursue their dreams.
We came into office saying we wanted to create an environment that would encourage businesses to add 700,000 jobs over 7 years.
When I took office two years ago, the debate was about whether or not this goal was even possible.
Now,there is a debate about how to count all the jobs being created, andwho should get credit for it. Maybe it is because I am not a politician,but I think this is a great debate to have. It celebrates the fact thatour economy is once again creating jobs...And, as Ronald Reagan said,there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don't care about whogets the credit.
ELIMINATE MANUFACTURING TAX
As long as even one Florida family needs a job, our work is not done.
That is why we are committed to removing the sales tax on manufacturing equipment.
Floridais one of only a few states with this tax, and we lag behind the nationin per capita manufacturing jobs. We need to level the playing field tocompete for manufacturing jobs.
Some great Florida manufacturing leaders are here with us today.
Weare honored to have Wes Bush, Chairman and CEO of Northrop Grumman,here. Less than 24 hours ago, his company made a major announcement thatthey will be adding more than 1,000 new jobs in Florida. Thank you foryour great confidence in our state and our workers.
President of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Dave Brown, is also here from Jacksonville.
And, Goya Foods President Frank Unanue is here from Miami.
Manufacturing has a major impact on our economy. Every manufacturing job supports two to three other jobs in our state.
Companieslike Northrop Grumman, Johnson & Johnson and Goya show howmanufacturing businesses - combined with Florida's great location and 15seaports - means more jobs.
Bill Johnson, Director of thePort of Miami and Chairman of the Florida Ports Council, is also here.When the Miami port dredge project is completed, along with the PanamaCanal expansion, thousands of new jobs will be created.
Wes, Dave, Frank and Bill - will you all please stand?
Pleasejoin me in honoring these great leaders in job-creation here today andall the manufacturing leaders and port directors in Florida.
Not having a job is devastating to a family.
I remember when my parents couldn't find work. I remember when my dad had his car repossessed.
The most important thing to a family is having a job.
Everythingwe have done together over the last two years has been geared towardjob creation and....I want to stress again, it's working.
Thisyear, we are also proposing that we continue to roll back the businesstax by exempting 2,000 more small businesses from having to pay it. Ifwe are successful this year, we will have removed the business tax from70 percent of businesses since taking office. I am committed to gettingrid of this tax entirely. That means more jobs for Florida families.
FORMULA FOR FLORIDA FAMILY SUCCESS
Thanks to the hardchoices we have made over the last two years, we can afford to cut taxes- and also invest in critical areas that have gone without increasedfunding for several years.
Our budget increases operatingfunds for Florida state colleges by more than $70 million; and increasesfunding for Florida universities by more than $390 million.
Much ofthis increase will be tied to performance measures to ensure schoolsare preparing students to get a job. I want to especially thankUniversity of Florida President Bernie Machen for being so helpful incoming up with performance measurements for success. Dr. Machen workedwith his colleagues across the university system to form measurementsand continue to make Florida's universities the best in the country. Dr.Machen, please stand so we can thank you and all of our universityleaders.
I also want to thank Randy Hanna, Chancellor ofFlorida StateColleges, for working to make college more affordable.Thank you for your role in enlisting all 23 state colleges offeringfour-year degree programs in our $10,000 degree challenge to graduatestudents in high-demand job fields at a low cost. Please join me inthanking Randy - and all state college leaders - for stepping up to theplate on the $10,000 Degree Challenge.
For the first timein eight years, our budget also increases funding for persons withdisabilities by $36 million to help more disabled people receivecommunity-based services, and $2.5 million for job training. Betty KayClements is here today - she is an advocate for persons withdisabilities in the Orlando area. I was honored to meet Betty recentlyand hear her story about her daughter, Laura Lynne, who has overcomemany obstacles with her disability to get a job at Target. Betty Kay,please stand so we can thank you for sharing your victory.
OurFlorida Families First budget also invests $1.5 million to provide safehouses for victims of human trafficking. Ann and I had the privilege ofmeeting Allison Good in Miami last month. Allison was first traffickedwhen she was only five years old. She eventually came to Florida whereshe continued to be a victim of trafficking into her early 20s. Today,Allison is a warrior in the battle to end this horrific crime. Allisoncould not be here today, but we are grateful for the God-given braveryshe has to share her story and give a voice to the millions of victimswho suffer in silence. Please join me in a round of applause to thankAllison and all of those working to raise awareness against this eviland stop this crime from claiming even one more victim.
We have some other heroes here today. Annette Kirk, will you pleasestand in honor of your son, Private First Class Paul Cuzzupe. Paul losthis life while fighting for our freedom in Afghanistan. Annette, it wasan honor to meet your family in Tampa and to hear about Paul's braveryin combat. Please join me in thanking Annette and every military familyfor their sacrifice and their service.
To our troops, ourfirefighters, and police officers - you are the true definition ofheroism. St. Lucie County Sheriff's Officer Gary Morales - whose lifewas taken tragically just last week - was a profile of courage. We areforever grateful to Sergeant Morales and all of our first responders wholive for something larger than self. Thank you.
I alsowant to recognize Representative Cary Pigman from Highlands County whowill be deploying to Kuwait with the US Army Reserve right after sessionends. Rep. Pigman, please stand so we can thank you for your servicenot only to our state - but to our country.
CONCLUSION: IT'S WORKING
Two years ago, we began the hard work to get our state's economy back on track. Today, we know it's working.
Wecould have chosen a different course. We could have continued to driveup taxes and borrowed to increase spending. That would have been theeasy way out.
California raised their top income tax rateto 13.3 percent - the highest in the nation. But, it isn't working inCalifornia. People are leaving their state and they have the secondhighest unemployment rate in the country.
More taxes andmore spending aren't working in New York either. More than 3.4 millionNew Yorkers fled for other states from 2000 to 2009. Florida was their#1 destination.
Taxing and spending aren't working inIllinois either. After raising their personal income tax rate by nearly70 percent in 2011, they are still running one of the worst budgetdeficits in the country.
Here in Florida, our work toreduce spending and cut taxes - along with making critical investmentsin priorities, like education - is working.
Top CEOs now rank Florida the second best state in the nation for business.
The National Chamber Foundation said Florida has the number one talent pipeline.
Justrecently, we made a major announcement with Verizon in the Orlando areathat will result in a new facility and hundreds of jobs. MichelleRobinson, Verizon's Region President, is here today. Michelle, will youplease stand. Thank you for investing in Florida and helping to createmore opportunities for Florida families.
We didn't winevery battle over the last two years. After a long fight, we lost in theSupreme Court over the President's healthcare law, and we lost apresidential election along with the promise of the law's full repeal.
Now,our options are either having Floridians pay to fund this program inother states while denying healthcare to our citizens - or - usingfederal funding to help some of the poorest in our state with theMedicaid program as we explore other healthcare improvements. As Iwrestled with this decision, I thought about my Mom and her struggles toget my little brother the care he needed with very little money.
Iconcluded that for the three years the federal government is committedto paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot,in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.
Of course, the best way for any family to access great healthcare is to have a great job.
Like my mom, I am an optimist.
I believe in big dreams.
Ibelieve Florida will be the number one place in the world for jobcreation; the number one place in the world to get a great education;and the number one place in the world where families can afford to live.
I believe that as we all continue to work together,Florida's job growth will outpace the nation and our unemployment ratewill drop below the national average.
I hope TexasGovernor Rick Perry is listening. As Governor Perry found out when hecame here to go fishing and came in second place, Florida won't stopuntil we are number one. Florida will soon unseat Texas as the top jobcreator in the nation. And, we plan to beat them in how we brag aboutour state also.
The hard work done over the last twoyears has set us up with a simple formula for success this year. We mustremove the sales tax on manufacturers and invest in future generationsof Floridians - by investing in Florida teachers.
PresidentGaetz, Speaker Weatherford, senators and representatives: I lookforward to joining with all of you as we put Florida families first, andsend a message to the world that Florida is serious about job creation.it's - working.