Gov. Lawton Chiles visited the Florida State Fair on Monday, using the opportunity to pitch his budget proposals and five-year "investment plan" for the state.
"We have to start investing, and the question is, how much longer are we going to put it off?" Chiles told an audience of about 1,000 at the annual Governor's Luncheon.
As an answer, Chiles presented members of the audience with a document called the "Chiles/MacKay Plan for Investing in Florida" that outlines his proposals to restructure the government and increase the tax base.
A "tax fairness plan," which already has been criticized by small business owners, would remove exemptions for maid service, lawn maintenance, tanning salons and other service industries.
The state also would impose a $200 flat fee on 400,000 corporations that now pay no taxes, and a $500 flat fee on 39,000 doctors.
Chiles said that roughly nine out of 10 Florida corporations now pay no state corporate tax.
On the spending side of the plan, Chiles outlined several proposals from his "investment budget," most of which he has unveiled elsewhere in recent weeks.
Educational reforms that would pump $600-million in additional money next year into the public schools and higher education systems.
As part of the education program, Chiles promised to "end the lottery hoax" through a five-year program that would send lottery money directly to school boards for improvements such as computers and books.
"We are going to send more authority back to your school boards and your teachers," Chiles said.
A $142-million "public safety" plan that would add prison beds and additional prison staff. Already, Chiles said, the state has two new prisons that it can not open because there is no money to hire prison guards.
A health care plan that would focus on preventive care. Chiles has proposed spending an additional $384-million in general revenue funds and $537-million in trust funds, seeking to ensure affordable and preventive health care to all Florida residents by the end of 1994.
Increased spending for environmental programs. Chiles proposed spending $31-million to prevent and clean up pollution, and $70-million for affordable housing and the states's Preservation 2000 land-buying program.
Better government productivity. Chiles wants to upgrade government equipment and increase training for government workers. He said managers in several state agencies have been given expanded authority to discipline, promote and reward their workers.
"If we are going to have a first class state, it's going to take some courage," he said.