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Florida Gov. Rick Scott: 'Government always takes more than it gives back'

Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott delivers his first state of the state address 3-8-11

Florida's new Republican governor, Rick Scott, is not your standard politician. Nor is he an experienced one who worked his way up from town council to county board and then the state Legislature.

The tall, gangly newcomer in Tallahassee worked his way up all right, but it was in business. The son of a JC Penney clerk and a truck driver, Scott was born in Illinois and raised in Kansas City.

After serving as a radarman in the Navy, he graduated from Southern Methodist University Law School and worked in a Dallas firm before entering the business world. His full biography is available here.

He then launched a long, successful and sometimes controversial career in the healthcare industry, driving innovation and cost-cutting, at one point even offering a ...

... feel-better-or-free-care guarantee to patients. Before launching his political career to succeed former Republican Charlie Crist, Scott's Columbia/HCA became the world's largest healthcare company, with more than 340 hospitals and 135 surgery centers in 37 states.

Two years ago this month, Scott launched Conservatives for Patients' Rights, a group that advocated for free enterprise in the healthcare industry and successfully opposed President Obama's government-run public-option plan.

As you'll see in Scott's full March 8 State of the State address below, his are now familiar themes in state capitals, especially the 29 governor's offices occupied by Republicans: Budget-balancing, cost-cutting, education-reforming, charter-school-boosting, merit-paying, regulation-reducing, tax-cutting, business-seeking, job-creating.

He too is pushing the drive to have state employees contribute something to their pension plan, as most private company employees do. Hence, the recent union demonstrations in the politically crucial Sunshine state.

This is one of the last complete state of the state address transcripts The Ticket is publishing as a detailed window into the kinds of grass-roots challenges being encountered by elected leaders in all 50 state capitals, which historically tend to produce the innovations and solutions that work their way up to the federal level. 

The complete list and links to each of the other state of the state addresses is available by scrolling to the bottom of this item.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State Address, as provided by his office

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 are underway. 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 florida governor rick Scott at his state of the state address 3-8-11destroying 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 session.

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 corporate tax.

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 job creators.

Ask Florida business owners, “What can we do to help you expand your business?”

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 attracting jobs.

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 school superintendents.

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.Florida Republican governor rick Scott with wife Ann on election night 2010

  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 outcomes.

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 government.

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.

They’re wrong.

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 achievable.

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!    ####

Other State of the State addresses:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich: 'We will not be raising taxes in this state'

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell: 'The private sector is strengthened when the public sector is restrained'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry: 'United in sending one clear & simple message to Washington: Enough'

Collorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: 'We have to deal with a $1 billion shortfall'

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin: 'The public expects leaner, more efficient government'

Gov. Scott Walker: 'Wisconsin is open for business'

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead: The 'healthcare bill may be the best Congress can do; it is not the best we can do'

Gov. Jerry Brown: 'California faces a crisis that is real and unprecedented'

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour: Tort reform is a major factor in growth and jobs

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval: 'The cure is not more government spending'

New Mexico's Susana Martinez: We 'are not under-taxed; our government has simply over-spent'

Alaska's Sean Parnell: 'Our state is on sound footing'

Washington's Christine Gregoire: 'We are down but not out'

South Carolina's Nikki Haley: 'When I survey this troubled landscape, I am not discouraged'

New York's Andrew Cuomo: 'We must transform our state government'

Indiana's Mitch Daniels: 'Doing the people's business while living within the people's means'

New Jersey's Chris Christie: 'New Jersey's comeback has begun'

Upper photo: Photos: Florida Gov. Rick Scott's delivers his State of the State address on March 8. Credit: Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

Middle photo: Gov. Rick Scott waves as he addresses joint session of the Florida Legislature. Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

Lower photo: rick Scott with wife Ann on election night 2010. Credit: Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (16)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Althought Scott's plans are unnerving and moving quickly, I do believe that the current ways of running governments haven't been working for a while. Let's give his way a chance. I keep a balance budget at home, why shouldn't the government keep one?

Governor Scott is taking every step he can to make Florida an oppressive, unappealing place to live.

He turned down billions of dollars of Federal funding to build a high-speed rail system that would've brought money and tourists to the State.

He is destroying our educational system recently proposing teachers contribute 5% to their retirement funds, while other State employees only contribute 2%.

He is pushing to deregulate industries which affect the health, safety, and welfare of Florida's residents and visitors, in the name of creating more "jobs." This deregulation will force our students and professionals to leave the State and go elsewhere where they may practice the professions they are trained for.

Not one person I know in Florida approves of the decisions Gov. Scott is making "on our behalf." He is turning the State into a free-for-all run by criminals and his deep pocketed supporters.

I believe what our state's governor means is that Governor Scott always takes more than he gives. He is wrecking education by reducing their budget 15%, stealing money from trust funds, and firing around 10,000 public employees who provide critical state services. This money is mostly going to help his corporate executive buddies in the form of reduced corporate taxes. The top 2% get wealthier and the rest suffer. Yep, that's our esteemed governor Scott's idea of providing good government.

If you "don't know a single person that approves of what the Governor is doing" it means you are associating with the wrong people.

Government creates nothing.

It confiscates wealth from the productive part of society and is, at best, a necessary evil.

Those of you that have allowed yourselves to become dependent on unsustainable benefits paid for by the productive private sector should be ashamed.

We in the private sector that actually WORK for a living pay much more than 5% for our benefits; the complaint that forcing public employees to contribute a little bit will "destroy" education is comical.

"High speed rail" is a make work project for which there is no demand.

If people wanted to ride trains between Tampa and Orlando, some enterprising person would already have one built to accommodate them; they do not exist.

Cutting taxes and regulations to reduce the burden and barriers of government will allow the great people of Florida to compete with the world, bring business here, and make this one of the most prosperous places on the planet.

Government can do none of those things; it spreads dependence, mediocrity, and failure.

It is time to move on people.

I'm loving what this governor is doing for Florida.

It's not business as usual. We don't have a career politician promising the same-old same-old. Here in Florida we need creative solutions to long-standing problems.

Rick Scott is the right guy for the right time.

I've still got my bumper sticker on. I'm expecting big things from him.same-old

Government workers are going to have to get in line with what the private sector worker (aka TAXPAYER) makes. The gravy train has left the station and government workers will just have to deal with it.

As for the other gravy train...going about 60 miles from Tampa to you really think that it was going to pay for itself? You mean like the other government subsidized transportation systems like Amtrak, etc.?

Scott knew it was a train to nowhere and I'm glad he decided to pass on what could only have been a big money drag on the taxpayers.

I'd say you need to get out more if you don't know anyone who approves of Scott.

He should know since his business interests are dependent on what he just said about government. Oh, come to think of it his business interests are dependent on government money to be profitable. Isn't Florida the prescription drug dispensary of the universe? It is the pipeline for the oxycontin express.

I seem to remember that Florida gets more from the Federal Gov't than it sends to Washington.

Rick Scott, Rick Scott . . . He's the one that stole at least 1.7 BILLION in Medicare Fraud from American taxpayers. IMAGINE how brazen that is. And they didn't stop him at 1 million, 20 million, 100 million, Wow. Or 500 million.

I think Governor Scott, should be the first person tested under his mandatory drug screening program. What is the boy smoking? I fail to understand why any rational business would ship goods thru the Panama Canal and off load in Miami. Water transport is cheap. Land transport is expensive. There is no direct freeway connection from the Port of Miami to the interstate. You need to go thru the middle of downtown in rush hour with grid lock to get anywhere. There is a single railroad track to the docks that is abandoned. Maybe using Jacksonville and tying into I-10 could work. Miami is a waste. Perhaps this is a special harbor for his supporter's yachts in Fort Lauderdale. I also fail to understand the logic behind giving tax cuts to corporations to create jobs in Florida. If you cut taxes, most corporations-which are out of state-will pass on revenues to shareholders as dividends. The shareholders also live out of state. Florida gets poor, others spend money on trinkets from China, and local citizens get nothing. So where are the jobs? Scott is canceling expenditures in areas that do generate jobs eg. Large Sale Public Work Projects which employ basic industry because he doesn't like big government. He's crazy. Does getting rid of the Department of Environmental Protection make sense? As a surfer and scuba diver I can tell you we need more protection not less to keep the ocean & beaches healthy. Cutting regs don't work! Chances of Rick Scott's proposals getting thru? Zero. The GOP hates him. Let's impeach before he can run for President.

Re: Healthcare reform!

Let me get this straight . . . ..

We're going to be "gifted" with a health care
plan we are forced to purchase and
fined if we don't,

Which purportedly covers at least
ten million more people,
without adding a single new doctor,
but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents,

written by a committee whose chairman
says he doesn't understand it,

passed by a Congress that didn't read it but
exempted themselves from it,

and signed by a President who smokes,

with funding administered by a treasury chief who
didn't pay his taxes,

for which we'll be taxed for four years before any
benefits take effect,

by a government which has
already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare,

all to be overseen by a surgeon general
who is obese,

and financed by a country that's broke!!!!!

'What the hell could
possibly go wrong?'

'Government always takes more than it gives back' - wellll, not a revelation..
"Maximum freedom, minimum govmt", as Libertatian Party says

In the medical profession, we think HCA (Gov. Scott's former company) is often worse quality than the not-for-profit hospitals.
Also, consider the $1.7Billion fraud settlement they just had. I think this tells you something about Governor Scott's honesty. Likewise, you have to be a pretty big lier to think our American government does not benefit Americans.

So the big "L" on Governor Scott's forehead: for "Loser" or "Lier"?

It's hilarious how Andrew Malcolm just happened to omit from this puff piece the fact that as CEO of Columbia/HCA, Rick Scott defrauded the taxpayer out of over a billion dollars - the largest Medicare fraud case in history.

Andrew Malcolm is a transparently partisan hack.

Obviously when he went to school he didn't learn much except Medicare fraud...

I have spent 2 yrs submitting my business proposal to the Governor's office. I finally got there to have my program to add 1600 jobs in Manatee county. Last week I was turned down , indirectly by Ms. O'Rouke via Tim Proctor. I want the governor to honor what he has promoted [ direct access to his phone.] This project needs the business background that the Governor brings to the table. My request is to have a meeting with the Governor for a complete understanding of the project that utilizes natural gas and coverts it to plastic resins used thru out the industry. Currently made from oil. This project is a multifacited project with major impact on the entire ecconomy. Call me Paul Santostasi 1800 749 9268 there are 1600 people ready to start working....they are hurting..


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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