Thank you, thank you, thank you, sit down.
So, at least we have nice weather now, right? So —
It's Florida, that's right!
Yesterday morning we had Greta VanSusteren, and she was complaining about the weather. I would not complain about this weather, so.
So first off, thank everybody for coming. I think, first off, Gov. Crist, thank you very much. Governor Crist could not have been more gracious during this transition period, and thank you very much.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Cabinet, Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court. Distinguished guests and my fellow Floridians.
First off, thank everybody for coming. There are so many people that have been part of my life … Okay, so, we've gathered.
Distinguished guests and my fellow Floridians. We gather today to talk about Florida's future. To assess where we are. To define where we want to go. And to plan how to get there. Clear goals and hard work can achieve amazing things. The giant oak trees that surround us here are what they are because they had a plan.
Once we take the right steps, I am absolutely convinced that Florida will become the most exciting place in the world to live and work.
Let's begin by facing — (Applause interruption) — Let's begin by facing squarely the challenge of our time — a stalled economy.
This morning more than a million Floridians got out of bed and faced another day of unemployment. For months they've searched for work. They fill out applications. They beg for interviews. They face rejection after rejection.
Many people who once earned a good living on a construction site — when the economy stalled, building stopped, and they found themselves with skills, but no degree and absolutely no job.
Some are young adults who got a degree and were eager to get started on their lives, but they couldn't find a job, and they've had to move back home.
Others are middle-aged adults who had been steadily employed for years — and then lost their jobs almost overnight.
Unemployed parents struggle to put on a brave face for their children, but it's hard to hide the fact that the wolf is at the door.
For all the unemployed, life without a paycheck is a desperate daily scramble to provide the bacon — basics.
I've been a child in a home like that. My father was often laid off. — My mother took in ironing just so we could have food on the table. I have a clear memory of their fear and uncertainty as they struggled to provide for five kids — So, for me, job creation is an absolute mission. My personal memories fortify my commitment to this mission.
There are millions of families across Florida whose future depends on the steps we take to create jobs.
America was built on the promise that anyone could succeed who was willing to work hard — but, when our economy falters and jobs disappear, that American promise seems hollow. Left uncorrected, high unemployment creates a spiral down into hopelessness.
We will not let that happen in Florida.
Faced with a deep recession, some say the answer is to expand the role of Government. That's the approach the Administration is taking in Washington.
That is absolutely the wrong approach.
It requires magical thinking to expect Government to create prosperity. Government has no resources of its own.
Government can only give to us what it has previously taken from us — (Applause) — minus a huge cut for the government middleman.
A lean and limited Government has a role to play in providing a safety net. But prosperity comes from the private sector, only from the private sector. — The only path to better days is paved with new private sector jobs.
In my own life, my first jobs were low-paying, but they gave me a toe-hold on the future. They taught me self-discipline. They gave me self-respect. They made me a productive citizen rather than dependent.
The availability of those first jobs is essential to steady improvement in the lives of young Floridians.
But those entry-level jobs are not enough. The availability of better jobs is the key to long-term prosperity. Florida has to develop a broader-based economy with a wider diversity of employment opportunities.
Our incredible natural resources, our wonderful climate, our beautiful beaches have given us a competitive advantage in agriculture and tourism. We have a long history as a critical national resource for the support and training of our military and the manufacture of defense related materials . Those sectors will always be the bedrock of our economy. But we have to capture the full spectrum of business activities and opportunities.
We need to manufacture more things in Florida. We need to capitalize on our geographical location as the natural connector and distribution hub for the growing economies of Central and South America.
We need to become the premier location for cutting edge technology.
The people of Florida elected me to get this state back to work. — And I believe in this mission. We have hard-working people who are desperately looking for jobs. We have energetic entrepreneurs with plenty of ideas. — And we have persuadable investors with ready cash. All that's been missing is the determination to create the most favorable business climate in the world — and we will.
We have to remember that modern businesses can locate anywhere. So If the conditions Florida offers aren't the best, they'll locate somewhere else.
What does it take to create the most favorable business climate?
Florida has to offer business people the most, the biggest opportunity for financial success. Not a guarantee, just a fair chance.
Three forces markedly reduce that chance for success — taxation — regulation — and litigation.
Those three form "The Axis of Unemployment." Left unchecked they choke off productive activity.
Florida has wisely refused to impose an income tax. Under my plan we'll eliminate the business tax and reduce the property tax.
The State of Florida raises enough revenues to meet its needs.
It should focus on spending those revenues smarter, setting better priorities and demanding more accountability.
We'll also re-examine every regulation to make sure its benefits outweigh its costs.
Unless they are pruned.
Regulations grow like weeds.
While there are some regulations that are essential for health and safety, and others that are essential to the protection of our priceless environment, it's past time to demand that every regulation be re-evaluated.
We will do a top to bottom review of all existing regulations and weed out unnecessary regulations that hinder job growth.
Today, I will sign an Executive Order creating a state office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory reform to review all proposed and existing regulations to determine their impact on job creation.
Every Floridian should have the right to access the court system for redress of harm. But, we will not allow excessive lawsuits to strangle job creation.
And we will not allow a small group of predatory lawyers to stalk the business community just in search of deep pockets.
In the absence of serious tort reform, Florida will lose opportunities for job growth. We have to do tort reform.
As I explained to Rick Perry, whatever they do in Texas, we're going to do better.
No special interests can be allowed to triumph over the goal of full employment.
Job creators need to know that the great State of Florida, the government of the great State of Florida, we are here to work with business people and job creators, not against them.
It's very important to recruit companies from around the world, but it's just as important if not more important to make sure we take care of the homegrown companies right here in our great state of Florida. Small businesses are incredibly effective weapons against unemployment. But small businesses are also the most vulnerable to poorly drawn regulations and endless delays in permitting.
All I heard the entire campaign was the unbelievable time it took to get permits in our great state. That doesn't make any sense, and it'll stop. Interaction between business owners and their government should not be confined to demands for fees and forms and permits.
Our main message to potential job creators is, "How can we, the great state of Florida, help you succeed?"
Private sector jobs grow in places where the public sector spending is kept within bounds. And we will keep our spending within bounds.
All of us who are lucky enough to have a job working for the state of Florida have a duty to watch over state spending like a hawk. We have to be very vigilant. Floridians have entrusted us with their tax dollars. They worked very hard for those dollars. They badly need those dollars for their needs. We must treat those resources with the respect they deserve and keep our demands to an absolute minimum.
We will require accountability budgeting in state government — we will review every state agency and look at how every state agency is spending every dollar.
We'll get rid of the agency, we'll get rid of the agencies — (realizing his error) — We'll get rid of the programs that don't work, we'll expand the programs that do. — That'll — That'll be in the paper. That wasn't part of the script, so you know.
Once we take the right steps, Florida will, we will become the most exciting place to live and work. We will clearly do that.
We're going to make Florida the place for innovation. We're going to encourage modern tinkers, the out-of-the box thinkers. — We're going to become the place in the world, the place, it's not going to be anyplace in the world, but we're going to be the place where high quality education is going to be translated into high quality jobs.
You can tell my focus is on jobs, right?
We're going to make it easy to grow and build a business in Florida so the enterprises are going to have to compete to find space in our great state.
We're going to tell the world — "If you can dream it, it's easy to make it happen in the great State of Florida"
Why not? After all, we have always been the destination for dreamers. — The place where somebody with a brand- big new idea could get started. — Railroads into the wilderness — A magic kingdom — A trip to the moon — Freedom from a foreign tyrant — Better health — Life without winter.
They said it was not colder here than Naples, and it's not.
Large and small, dreams are the stuff that Florida is made of.
While we set about becoming the best place in the country to create jobs, we'll also take a fresh look at education and health care. Few things matter to us as much as our health care and the education of our children.
It's time to offer Floridians more choices, more opportunity to select the services they want and they need. We're not going to cling to models that were created in a prior century. We're not going to allow bureaucracies to make our decisions for us.
Floridians differ in their dreams for their children. But as we know, every child is unique, and every child can learn.
We need an education system that allows the maximum amount of choice.
A system focused entirely on what's best for individual student learning, not for special interests. We're going to create a workforce for the future with an education, we're not going to create a workforce for the future when we're stuck in an education model with the past.
To capture the world's best jobs, we have to offer businesses the world's best-educated workforce, and we will do it.
I got asked if I cared about health care. In the health care sector, top-down government programs treat patients like interchangeable parts. That will stop. We're going to treat patients as individuals, choosing their own doctors and making their own decisions in consultation with those doctors.
We're not going to allow bureaucrats and our federal government to trample all over our relationships with our physicians and our right to make our own decisions on health care.
You know, the very wealthy have plenty of options. But for most Floridians they may have far too little say in how their children are educated or how health care services are provided.
None of that is written in stone, and it will change. We just have to have the courage to change.
Here's how we'll provide better service.
First, we'll refuse to allow increased government intrusion in these areas. We'll put Floridians back in the driver's seat with increased use of free markets. Because when government does the buying, government chooses what services are available.
The truth is, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Now we're going to call the tune, not the government.
We're going to apply some of the same tools that business people use.
We'll measure everything. We'll implement changes based on what we learn from those measurements. And, most importantly, we'll hold everyone accountable.
I expect to be held accountable, everyone in government will expect to be held accountable, just like the private sector is held accountable.
And I believe in it, and we will do it.
In the next few months, special interests will try to stop what we're doing. One thing I ask for each of you is stand up and not only hold us accountable but help defend what we're trying to do. You know — you know — write letters to editors, you know, call us, let us know that you believe in what we're doing.
I'm determined to do everything I can, and I know every elected official up here wants to do the same thing. I want to make a real and lasting improvement in the lives of fellow Floridians.
I believe that each of us is responsible to our Maker for what we do with the time allotted to us on this Earth. Recognizing that my Maker is watching over my service as Governor, I will be resolute in seeking bold — probably more bold than some people like — but bold, positive change.
In the last few years, Floridians have had a tough time. High unemployment and declines in our housing market have left a trail of destruction probably as bad as any hurricane.
But every generation of Floridians has faced tough challenges. And every generation has been resilient.
In the 1880s yellow fever hollowed out entire communities.
In the Depression of the 1930s, more than one in five families required relief funds to survive.
In the 1940s, over a quarter of a million Floridians served in uniform, and their worried families were sometimes short of basic necessities.
In every decade we've had to rebuild after horrific hurricanes.
After adversity, Florida has always come back stronger.
Our current problems are absolutely solvable and our future is in our hands.
We are resilient people.
Whether the national government takes the right steps or not, here in Florida, we have what we need to make the next four years the most exciting time to live and work in Florida. And we will make it happen.
This is the right time to act. This is an unbelievable opportunity for everybody in elected office and for everybody that lives in our great state.
Shakespeare put it this way: "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
I believe this is high tide. This is the time we can do great things together.
If we have the courage to act, our children and our grandchildren will someday thank us for it.
May God Bless the Great State of Florida.
Let's get to work.
Thank you very much.