In his inaugural address Tuesday, Florida’s new governor promised “bold, positive change” that may be “more bold than some people may like.”
In a hoarse voice, Rick Scott opened his speech with a note of empathy, and an apparent rebuttal to some ideas offered by his economic transition advisers.
“This morning more than a million Floridians got out of bed and faced another day of unemployment,” he said. “For months they’ve searched for work. They fill out applications. They beg for interviews. They face rejection after rejection.”
His economic advisers were criticized for mischaracterizing a study to suggest that the unemployed have not been working hard enough for work.
Noting that his parents faced layoffs when he was growing up, Scott said persistent unemployment can create a downward spiral into hopelessness. “We will not let that happen in Florida.”
Scott went on to describe job creation as his “absolute mission” while in office and said three things stand in the way: taxation, litigation and regulation. Together, he said, they form the “axis of unemployment.”
He went on to enumerate familiar promises from his campaign: to eliminate the corporate income tax and reduce property taxes, to “measure everything” in an effort to hold government accountable, to implement tort reform and to create “an education system that allows the maximum amount of choice.”
“We’ll get rid of agencies that don’t work,” he said, going off-script, before correcting himself — he meant to say “programs.”
“That’ll be in the paper,” he quipped.
He also pledged to use his first day in office to create an office Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform to take a hard look at state regulations and “determine their impact on job creation.”
The relationship between business and government shouldn’t be confined to filling out forms and waiting on permits, he said.
“Our main message to job creators is: How can we, the great state of Florida, help you succeed?”
Suggesting that the state’s current problems present an opportunity “to make the next four years the most exciting time in our history,” Scott drew his speech to a close with a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
“I believe this is high tide,” he said before parting with his campaign slogan: “Let’s get to work.”
The text of his speech (as prepared, not delivered) can be found here.