By long-standing tradition, the start of the yearly Florida Legislative Session includes the Governor’s state of the state address. This was Governor Rick Scott’s fifth state of the state speech. He kicked it off somewhat uncharacteristically by poking a bit of fun at himself.
“So now it’s time to start another State-of-the-state Speech,” Scott said. “Or, as I like to call it, a chance to show off my world-renowned oratorical skills.”
If that modest self-deprecation was unexpected, most of the rest of Governor Scott’s talk was more typical: a litany of the state’s economic strengths.
“Enterprise Florida has won more than 400 competitive projects: companies like Hertz and Navy Federal Credit Union. We’re a right to work state,” the governor continued. “We are the gateway to Latin America. We are the number-two state in the country for trade infrastructure, number two for aerospace and aviation establishments. We’re the second-best state for business by CEO Magazine and we will absolutely soon be number one,” Scott concluded.
Not to mention the fact the state’s annual tourism numbers are now flirting with the 100 million mark. Governor Scott had a prime prescription for Florida staying the economic growth course.
“In order to be a land where dreams come true, we have to absolutely out-compete the world. There are five ways we can do it. First, let’s keep cutting taxes,” he said.
That probably drew the biggest audience applause of the speech. Many of the governor’s proposed tax cuts target business, but he’s proposing one that would impact just about everyone.
“I have recommended cutting the tax on cell phones and TVs for every Florida family so they can save around $43 a year for spending as little as $100 on cell phones and TVs combined,” he said.
Besides the little self-jab at the outset, there was another unusual aspect to Governor Scott’s speech. In the past, few could accuse him of being overly cozy with lawmakers. But this week, the governor invited a record number of them to the mansion and – in his state of the state – he promised to keep working at that good working relationship.
“Members of the senate, members of the house, I commit to all of you that I will be a tireless partner in your fight to make Florida the best place in the world for all of our children and all of our grandchildren to get a great job and live their dreams,” said Governor Scott.
Of course, there’s always a counterpoint and, in the case of a Republican Governor like Scott, that opposition comes from the Democrats. In her response, Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa took aim at Scott’s claims that Florida’s economic surge is impacting everyone.
“Just ask Adhanet Kidane, a 30-year-old single mom in Tampa, who works two minimum wage jobs at fast-food restaurants,” Joyner said. “Sadly, the road to today’s state-of-the-state came at your expense.”
And for House Minority Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach, the looming loss of federal low income pool funding for hospitals is a big problem.
“Even though the federal government has said it’s going to stop spending $1 billion in Florida, Governor Scott included that money in his own budget. It could leave a billion-dollar hole,” Pafford warned in his response.
Still, the fun has just begun as the 60-day session is off and running.