Florida Governor Rick Scott Unveils State Budget in Eustis Today
Feb 7, 2011
The Office of Florida Governor Rick Scott issued the following news release containing the transcript of Governor Scott’s speech given today, February 7, 2011, to introduce his proposed budget for the State of Florida:
Governor Scott Unveils Florida’s First “Jobs Budget” Before a Capacity Crowd in Eustis
Eustis, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott, unveiled the state’s first “Jobs Budget” before a capacity crowd in Eustis, today.
The Governor said his “Jobs Budget” was “designed to reduce state spending, lower taxes and hold your government accountable.”
Governor Scott’s budget proposal also went up online at www.letsgettowork.net during the speech.
Governor Scott’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Today, I’m proud to present Florida’s first “jobs budget.” A budget that is designed to reduce state spending, lower taxes and hold your government accountable.
When I ran for Governor, I offered Floridians a specific, detailed plan – 7 steps to 700,000 jobs in 7 years.
This budget puts that 7-7-7 plan into action. As I promised to do during the campaign, this budget reduces state spending by over $5 billion while returning $2 billion directly to the taxpayers.
After 35 years in business, I know the importance of focusing on clear goals. This “jobs budget” is focused on the goal of shrinking government, reducing your taxes, creating private sector jobs and holding government accountable.
It’s not a budget that dabbles. It doesn’t offer a little something for every special interest or sweeteners for certain people.
It’s a two year budget that faces realities NOW, rather than putting them off for later.
It makes the hard decisions. But it makes the right decisions for Florida’s future.
The fact is that government has to get back to its core functions. Only its core functions! And we must hold our government accountable when it fails to do so.
As long as 1.1 million Floridians are out of work, we can’t afford a government that runs wild with taxes, regulations and excessive spending.
Reviewing a governmental budget is much like going through the attic in an old home.
You come across some priceless things you need to protect. But there are a lot of odd things someone once thought we needed.
Much of it we’ve outgrown. And it just doesn’t fit anymore.
Over the last month, I’ve spent a lot of time in that attic.
And I’m cleaning it out.
There are things we need to dust off, repair and protect. And there are things we need to throw away.
And all of it needs to be regularly re-examined.
Let’s start with the obvious. We can’t spend more than we take in. And we take-in enough from hardworking Floridians.
Over the last few years, Florida accepted one time hand-outs from the federal government.
Those temporary resources allowed state and local governments to spend beyond their means.
That’s like someone who wins the lottery expecting to receive that same windfall year after year.
It just doesn’t make sense. There was never any reason to think that Florida taxpayers could afford to continue that higher level of spending once the federal hand-outs were gone.
The false expectations created by the federal hand-outs are the reason we hear about a multi-billion dollar deficit.
Some have become accustomed to the artificially high level of state spending made possible by the money the federal government borrowed from our grandchildren.
That level of spending was never wise and simply cannot be sustained.
To those who suggest that we meet those new unsustainable expectations with higher taxes, I want to send a clear signal.
That is NOT the answer. We will not increase taxes.
For the last four years, most Florida families have had to learn to live with less at home.
Even those who continued to find work have been forced to make sacrifices. There are places where several generations are crowded into tight quarters. They’ve given up all the extras because it’s what they had to do.
Floridians shouldn’t have to send more of their MONEY to Tallahassee to pay for non-essential government programs or solely fund the retirement programs of government employees.
Let’s never forget that government has no resources of its own. Government can only give to us what it has previously taken from us – minus a huge cut for the government middleman.
Now this “jobs budget” reduces taxes for Florida taxpayers to energize the economy and help Floridians can get back to work.
This “jobs budget” will reduce the business tax from 5.5 percent to 3 percent, completely phasing it out by 2018. And we will cut property taxes by $1.4 billion over the two year term. Together we will cut taxes by over $4 billion over two years.
Critics have said we can’t afford to cut taxes now. They repeat the same misguided claims we hear in Washington. I say they are wrong. I say we must cut taxes now.
Things cannot improve until we have more private sector jobs.
We will capture more jobs if other states have a business tax that Florida does not have. We are competing with 49 other states and many countries for entrepreneurs who start, grow and move companies based on where they can get the best return.
Cutting taxes is essential to economic prosperity. We will be the best place in the world to live, work and play.
This “jobs budget” devotes significant resources, $800 million over two years, for economic development projects and incentives that develop private sector jobs and particularly promising ventures.
Let me be clear. The decision to spend these dollars will be subject to clear-eyed, rigorous calculations.
In my years in business, I was known as someone who knew how to get a significant return for shareholders. We will not give incentives without getting a VERY good return for the state’s shareholders, you the taxpayers.
Since we have resolved not to raise taxes, balancing our budget means reducing the size and cost of government.
In creating this “jobs budget,” we have looked at every activity and asked whether it’s the taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for it. If it seems appropriate for government to fund, we’ve asked whether the way we’re doing it is the smartest and most cost-effective approach.
When making budget decisions, we are doing what smart families do. We decide what’s essential and protect it.
Then, if there are resources left over, we invest in things that yield the best returns.
When I ran for office, I said I didn’t think taxpayers ought to pay for private jets to ferry public officials. So, during my first week as governor, I ordered those planes to be sold.
When Florida families travel, they drive or fly commercial. Public officials will do the same.
The same thinking compels me to offer a plan to stabilize and secure government employee pensions by bringing them in line with the private sector and nearly every other state in the country by requiring government employees to contribute five percent towards their own retirement. We cannot ask Florida taxpayers, most of whom have no pension at all, to bear ALL the costs of pensions for government employees. By modernizing the Florida Retirement System, we will save taxpayers $2.8 billion over two years.
Other cost savings will be realized in the “jobs budget” by changing the way government does business. State government buys a lot of things, enters into a lot of contracts, and negotiates a lot of leases. By taking a fresh look at these purchases and by renegotiating contracts and leases, along with prioritizing and eliminating wasteful spending we can save the taxpayers more than $660 million over two years.
We will save money by streamlining state agencies and consolidating overlapping functions. State agencies are not permanent fiefdoms. They are simply a means to serve the interest of the taxpayers. By consolidating functions, reorganizing, privatizing and sharing certain services, we will save taxpayers over $120 million over two years. And, by eliminating programs that are not core government functions, we will save over $150 million over two years.
Many of the savings in this budget come from reforms that are long over due. This budget constrains the growth of entitlements, offering better ways to serve Floridians receiving Medicaid, the health care safety net for the poor. We will save nearly $4 billion over two years by creating a patient-directed system. This will reduce utilization of this health care safety net for the poor, provide freedom of choice for patients and significantly reduce expenditures over the long run.
This budget also saves $500 million by innovating the management of juvenile offenders and the management of our state prisons.
This is a lean budget that reduces state spending, cuts taxes for Floridians and reforms a regulatory framework that has stunted economic growth. But this is also a budget that will hold government accountable.
For the first time, this “jobs budget” provides a measurable goal for every single line item so that we can track and assess whether it is cost-effective and achieving its mission.
At this moment, you can go online to www.letsgettowork.net and view the “jobs budget” in its entirety. There will be many special interests that will decry cuts to their favorite programs.
But we must remember that for the sake of our grandchildren’s futures, we must get spending under control today. I said I would present a balanced budget that reduced spending and taxes during the campaign, and I am making good on that promise today.
We will reduce state spending by over $5 billion while returning $2 billion directly to the taxpayers.
So join me today as we set an example for the nation that you can in fact shrink government, return tax dollars to their rightful owners and create an atmosphere that creates new and better paying jobs.
Let’s Get to Work.