TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Rick Scott gave a State of the State speech Tuesday that was as much a Florida history lesson as it was a vision for the state’s future — telling lawmakers he wants more tax cuts, more money for education and more affordable college tuition.
Scott recalled some of the major achievements that helped Florida grow to become the nation’s third largest state. That included Dr. John Gorrie’s work in the 1800s that led to air conditioning, the railroads and hotels Henry Flagler built more than 100 years ago, the founding of the Publix supermarket chain in the Great Depression, and the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971.
“Florida has long been a place where dreams come true. But, this is not just our past — it is our future. We have to ask ourselves who has the next big dream for Florida? Who are the inventors? The builders? The trailblazers? We want more people to chase their dreams in Florida,” Scott said.
Scott listed his priorities for the year to achieve that goal. That included permanently ending the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, cutting a tax on cell phones and television services, boosting school spending, and making college more affordable.
“Let us never again say that, ‘We have to raise tuition because tuition in other states is higher than ours.’ We don’t raise taxes when other states have taxes higher than ours, and we shouldn’t raise tuition when other states have higher tuition,” Scott said.
Scott also urged lawmakers to spend more on the environment, pointing out his recommendation to spend $3 billion on environmental and agriculture programs. He said that to compete with the rest of the world Florida needs to remain beautiful.
“Florida is an exceptional place — we have the economy and the opportunity to keep it that way,” he said.
Scott also said the state’s economy is thriving and noted that unemployment has been cut in half since he took office four years ago. He noted that Florida has the fewest state workers per capita than any state in the country.
“I believe that our rich history is only a glimpse of what we can do in the future. Everything is possible in Florida. We are now in the lead, and it’s ours to lose. We have to avoid any temptation to stand down or rest on our laurels,” Scott concluded.