Governor Rick Scott will give his State of the State address today.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott told lawmakers in his second State of the State address that Florida needs to continue to streamlining government, cutting corporate taxes and eliminating regulations in an effort to help existing businesses grow and to lure more here.
But unlike last year, when the former CEO began his first term in elected office dictating the agenda, his new theme this year is cooperation. He's adding a new word to a familiar catch phrase used during his campaign and first year in office.
"Let's get to work - together," Scott's speech ends, according to prepared remarks.
"I'm open to any idea from whatever source that is likely to improve the lives of Floridians," the Republican governor said in prepared remarks. "No person, profession or party has a monopoly on all the good ideas. The commitment I make to those here today is to keep open, clear lines of communication so that together our time in the Capitol can best be spent in the service of those who sent us here."
While Scott has a new attitude, the ideas are largely the same. He's asking lawmakers to make the state as business friendly as possible, saying that the two things companies need most to grow are money and time.
"Taxes and regulations. They are the great destroyer of capital and time for small business," Scott said. "When growth slows in small businesses, what happens? New jobs are the first casualties. This session, we need to lower burdensome taxes on small businesses and continue our mission of slashing red tape in Florida."
Scott touted job growth numbers over the past year, saying Florida has added 135,000 private sector jobs and an overall total of more than 120,000 when government job cuts are factored in.
Scott is proposing to raise the exemption for corporate income taxes and is giving lawmakers a list of regulations he believes should be eliminated. And while he's calling for cooperation, he said there's one thing that's not negotiable.
"My recommended budget includes $1 billion in new state funding for education. And I ask you to please consider this recommendation very carefully," Scott said in prepared remarks. "In this point, I just cannot budge."
Scott noted that Florida's population is growing and that it will soon pass New York to become the third-largest state in the nation. He then compared the two states in an argument why Florida is a better place to live and do business.
"To our friends in New York, come on down! As I stand here today, our temperature outdoors is about twice as high as yours, and your state tax burden per citizen is about twice as high as ours," Scott said. "The state of New York, which has just about the same population as Florida, has a budget roughly twice as large as ours."
Scott also stressed the need to crack down on auto insurance fraud that leads to higher personal injury protection coverage.
"If we are going to be serious about keeping the cost of living low for Floridians, we must get tough on the fraud and abuse in the auto insurance system," Scott said. "It is the consumers in our state that we must protect, not trial lawyers or those involved in these schemes."
Scott's speech marked the first day of the Legislature's 60-day session. It's being held two months earlier this year as lawmakers draw new political maps for state and congressional districts. Scott noted the addition of redistricting to an already packed agenda and urged lawmakers to remain courteous. He did not, however, mention one of the other large items being considered this session - a proposal to allow destination casinos in South Florida. It's an issue that Scott plans to watch, but not wade into. At least for now.
The governor said in a radio address Friday that he will focus on three main issues this year, including job creation, auto insurance reform and education.
"I want to ensure that Florida's children have access to a quality education by adding an additional $1 billion into next year's education budget," said Scott.
However, Scott's current budget proposal does not increase the state's education funding.
According to Scott's website, the 2011-2012 education budget was about $20.5 billion. In his 2012-2013 budget proposal, education would get $20.1 billion.
Scott is also expected to announce a series of job creation initiatives that he believes will continue to reduce Florida's unemployment rate.
In 2011, Scott's administration said more than 130,000 jobs were created in the state. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that figure is accurate. They calculate there were 137,000 jobs added from November 2010 to November 2011.
The Governor will address the state at 11:30 a.m. Watch it live on WTLV-NBC 12 and firstcoastnews.com. Then tune into First Coast News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. for live coverage on the governor's speech and legislative session.