Editor's note: Gov. Charlie Crist responds to Saturday's article in the Times, "Schedule: Crist takes 10 weeks off a year,'' and Tuesday's editorial, "A part-time governor for a full-time job.''
I'm often asked what a day in the life of a governor is like. Whether the question comes from schoolchildren during classroom visits, a shopkeeper during a small business stop-by, or even from the occasional journalist, the answer to how a governor manages the challenges and opportunities facing a state as diverse and magnificent as Florida with just 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week is simple. I use every minute and every hour of every day reading, preparing, learning and listening for the important decisions that lie ahead.
The schedule of a governor should not — and cannot — be reduced to a spreadsheet. To do so is ridiculous and does not reflect the endless hours spent briefing with agency leaders and staff, reading policy briefings and the day's news, meeting and talking on the phone with constituents, advisers and legislators, and responding to the types of things that just simply cannot be scheduled. To look at a governor's published daily schedule, which is provided as a simple snapshot of public events and planned meetings, disregards the spontaneity required to lead our state.
I am so proud of the accomplishments of our administration in less than three years: the largest tax cut in Florida history; the unanimously passed Cover Florida Health Care plan, which provides access to affordable health care for thousands of uninsured Floridians; our work to pass the Anti-Murder Act, which has placed 96 probation violators behind bars; our work on Operation Orange Tree, to capture the monsters who prey on children; our efforts to see a record 10,000 foster children adopted into loving, permanent families; and the daily effort to maintain a level of fiscal responsibility that honors Florida's hard-working taxpayers.
I was elected by the people of this great state to make a difference, not to mark time, and that is just what I am doing. I look forward to rolling out our 2010 legislative priorities in the coming months, because while we have accomplished much in less than three years, there is much more to do — provide tax cuts and incentives for Florida's businesses, continue to increase education standards and maintain per student funding, tackle corruption in local government through vigorous ethics reform, and protect our children and seniors through strict background-screening reform.
These are challenging and exciting times in our state, and I approach each day as governor as an opportunity to do the right thing for the people. There are 14 months left in our administration, and as I have done since we arrived in 2007, I intend to spend every moment focused on making a difference. My resolve and determination to serve the almost 20 million people who call the Sunshine State home is as strong as ever.
Charlie Crist is governor of Florida.