Gov. Rick Scott's inaugural address as prepared for delivery:
First and foremost, thank you to the people of Florida. Without your confidence and support, we would not be here today. I certainly would never have made it here, or made it through any of the exciting adventures in my life without the love and support of my beautiful wife, Ann. Who would have thought when we got married 42 years ago we would be here today? You are the best, I love you.
I have been very blessed in my life; and our daughters, Allison and Jordan, are no doubt the sweetest blessings of all. Allison, Jordan — I love you and I am very proud of you and the incredible mothers you are. I also want to thank my son-in-laws, Pierre and Jeremy, for being here today and for giving Ann and me the gift of three wonderful grandsons — Auguste, Quinton and Sebastian. Being a grandpa is probably the only job in the world better than being your Governor.
Thanks to Governor Rick Perry for being here today and Governor Chris Christie. I would also like to recognize Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Senate President Andy Gardiner, Speaker of the House Steve Crisafulli, and members of the Florida Senate and the Florida House; our honorable law enforcement, military members and our Supreme Court justices. Looking out at the audience, there are many of you I would like thank for your support and counsel.
Let me start today by reiterating something I said on election night — the campaign is over. Of course you all know that already. But my point is this — it was a hard fought campaign, but now we must all turn our focus toward governing, and toward serving the people of Florida. And that means all the people. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, all of Florida's nearly 20 million citizens.
Sure, there will be differences of opinion. There will be robust debates on the best direction for Florida. That's not a weakness in our system. That is our strength. But there are many things that we can come together on, and we should not let partisan politics, or any politics for that matter, get in our way. Today, we embark on an incredible mission together, for the benefit of Florida families.
Four years ago, I stood here and we set our sights on the ambitious goal of helping Florida create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today, it is just four years later and I am proud to say that Florida businesses have in fact created more than 700,000 jobs! That is incredible! When we set this goal in 2010, Florida's economy was losing jobs, housing prices were dropping and many predicted it would take far more than seven years to pull out of the downward spiral of job loss and increased debt.
But, we proved them wrong, and when I say that "we" proved them wrong, I mean the hard working people of Florida proved them wrong. Over the last four years — Florida's businesses and the hardworking people of our state have created more than 700,000 new jobs! This may simply be a number to many — but every job, every one of the 700,000 jobs we are talking about, represents a family. Families like those of Danny Reyna, Paul Bumiller and Sunday Delgado — who you heard from today. One new job doesn't just help one person. Every job transforms a family.
A lot of people ask me why I ran for Governor. My friends from business don't understand. They don't know why I am not in retirement … off fishing somewhere. But, I ran for Governor to change lives by giving people better opportunities. I can tell you from watching my parents struggle for work that if you want to change a life — get someone a job!
If I can make Florida the worldwide location where families who have struggled to make ends meet can get a job, then I have fulfilled my goal as Governor because a job is the No. 1 way to change a life. A job helps families put food on the table, pay the rent and buy a car. A job gives families hope for the future. The importance of continual job creation is something that we can all agree on. Jobs and opportunities are good for all of us.
You have heard me constantly talk about jobs since I ran in 2010. I want to promise you I will never stop. I will be working to make Florida No. 1 in job opportunities and growth right up to the last day I serve as your Governor. Jobs for Florida families have been my focus every single day for the last four years… and jobs will continue to be my mission for the next four years.
While we are focused on growing jobs in Florida — we must realize that positions our state as a fighter in a great movement against the silent growth of government. Many States, like Florida, are fighting to limit the growth of government and grow opportunity instead. If you don't believe Florida is right in the middle of this national battle — I want to share some facts with you…
Over the last 20 years, millions of people have escaped from states with climbing tax rates to move to states with lower taxes. Why does this matter? For starters, estimates say individuals who escaped these high tax states have taken with them around $2 trillion in adjusted gross income. They are voting with their feet…
They are leaving states like New York, which lost $71 billion in adjusted gross income from 1992 to 2011. And, they are leaving Illinois, which lost $31 billion in adjusted gross income over that same period. The people that left New York and Illinois had one thing in common — their No. 1 destination was Florida. Florida has inherited over $26 billion in adjusted gross income from New York and Illinois during that time. In total, Florida has inherited over $100 billion in adjusted gross income. To put that in perspective, that is more than 1/8th of our entire GDP last year. And, we've inherited 1.7 million residents during that time.
We are first for families deciding where they can live the American Dream.
When people move here, they spend their money here, they bring their businesses here, they support our charities and they create more jobs and opportunities for others in our great state. In fact, this national battle against growing government so intensely affects Florida that we just recently surpassed New York as the third-largest state in the nation.
In Florida we are proving that government can do better without getting bigger. We have two choices: we can pretend this migration would have happened regardless of our tax burden or what government policies we enact, or we can acknowledge Florida's very serious advantage over other states in not just this last decade — but the next decade to come.
If there is one thing I hope you remember from this message today, I hope it is this: Florida must stay committed to smaller government and lowering taxes to become the top destination in the world for jobs! I know there is a great temptation in government to think that you can spend people's money better than they can. But, if that were true, more than one million people would not have left New York and Illinois over the past 20 years for Florida and other lower tax states.
In the next four years, we will build on our legacy of cutting taxes more than 40 times. We will cut another $1 billion in taxes in the next two years and continue to roll back the business tax while permanently eliminating the tax on manufacturing equipment. As Florida businesses are better able to compete globally, we will have more and more jobs.
Why will we do this? For one reason and one reason only: to provide more and better opportunities for every single person in Florida, especially for families who are struggling to make ends meet.
I have a message today to the people of New York, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and others: move to Florida! We want you to keep more of the money you make because we understand it's your money. We want your businesses to grow and succeed. We want to compete globally and win. Over the next four years, I will be traveling to your states personally to recruit you here. In Florida, we are in the business of growing opportunity for families, not growing government.
In addition to cutting taxes, we have an ambitious agenda to KEEP FLORIDA WORKING and become the global leader for job creation by the year 2020. We know the workers of tomorrow are in our classrooms today — and that is why this year we will increase per-pupil K-12 education funding to the highest level in Florida history. And as we do that, we will be ever mindful of the fact that more money alone does not guarantee success in education. Florida has led the nation in education reforms, providing equal opportunity in education for all, and we will continue to do that. We will also compete globally for jobs by investing in workforce training programs that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
Keeping our costs low doesn't end with tax cuts — it also includes lowering the cost of higher education opportunities as well. That is why we have already worked with the Legislature to stop tuition increases in our undergraduate programs. And, to make higher education even more affordable in the next four years, we will increase the number of $10,000 bachelor degrees offered at our state colleges; while also holding the line on graduate school tuition.
Today, Texas is our No. 1 competitor for jobs — but we will unseat Texas within the next four years for this top spot and we will compete globally for business investment. To become the GLOBAL leader in job creation, it's critical that we invest $1 billion in our ports over our time in office. We must also make it a priority to invest $25 billion in our roadways over the next five years to further our economic growth.
Investments in our infrastructure must be partnered with environmental improvements to ensure we keep Florida beautiful. Over the next 10 years, we will work to invest $1 billion to restore our springs and help develop water supplies. I realize that all candidates for public office talk about how important the environment is to the health of our people and our state. But talk is cheap. We have to make the investments necessary to turn talk into reality. We have made great environmental strides and we will continue to do so.
I began this speech with a confession that our goal of creating 700,000 jobs in 7 years was ambitious. In closing, I will admit to you that our new goal of unseating Texas and becoming the global leader in job creation is equally ambitious.
But, if we accomplish our priorities — invest in education, cut taxes, lower the cost of higher education and improve workforce development — we will continue to be the No. 1 destination for people looking to escape big government all across the country … and the world.
The No. 1 threat to our success is complacency. Don't let anyone tell you government policies don't matter. Don't let anyone convince you that jobs just create themselves. Florida gets stronger each year because we are fighting against a bloated federal government and their increased regulations and higher taxes. Florida is getting stronger each year because we are dreaming of more opportunities for our families — not more roles for government red tape.
Florida: we cannot give up this fight. We cannot let go of this dream. We have more work to do. But, I know we can do it together.
Let's commit today that we will keep cutting taxes so we can create more growth and opportunity.
Let's commit today to keep higher education affordable.
Let's commit today to invest in our growing infrastructure.
And let's commit today to work together to keep Florida working.
Thank you. God bless America and God bless Florida.