TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Dean Cannon used a good chunk of his 2011 session opening remarks Tuesday to criticize the federal government for rampant spending, likening leaders in D.C. to a "fiscal heroin addict" with China as its supplier.
"It's created a paralyzing web of entitlement programs, and it's literally beginning to collapse under its own weight," Cannon said. "They forgot, for example, that social services are supposed to lift people out of hard times, not wrap them in a cocoon of dependency."
It's up to state lawmakers, he said, to resist the temptation to appease special interests and be willing to wield the budget knife.
"We will have to reduce spending on good programs in order to preserve necessary programs," he said. As protesters gathered outside the state Capitol, Cannon said it's important for lawmakers to not be influenced by them, declaring, "We will not make decisions based on the politics of fear and anger."
Cannon specifically addressed such issues as Medicaid, teacher compensation, pill mills and courts.
On Medicaid, which Cannon said has grown like a cancer, he said: "I challenge you, we must do what Washington has failed to do and step up to the plate to bring this entitlement program under control."
On courts, which Cannon wants to reform, he said: "Judicial independence should never be used as an excuse to exceed the limits of the Constitution."
On pill mills, Cannon touted his proposal to ban doctors from direct sales of the most-abused prescription drugs, and dismissed the idea of a prescription drug monitoring database.
And on teacher pay, Cannon said Florida can't continue paying the worst teachers as much as the best teachers.
In closing, Cannon went back at the federal government, saying Florida lawmakers shouldn't follow Washington leaders "over the edge" and should show "we have the wisdom do to what is right."