TALLAHASSEE (NSF)—With an empathetic nod to more than 1 million out of work Floridians, Gov. Rick Scott took office Jan. 4 promising to alleviate the pain of an “axis of unemployment” made up of taxes, cumbersome regulations, and lawsuits.
Scott campaigned almost entirely on the same theme, with the mantra “Let’s Get to Work” propelling him into the governor’s office as unemployment here rose to 12 percent. He stuck mostly to that topic in a roughly 20-minute inaugural speech.
“Job creation is an absolute mission,” Scott said.
Restoring the governorship to the Republican Party—outgoing Gov. Charlie Crist was elected as a Republican but finished his term having left the party last spring to be an independent—Scott hit on themes that were red meat to a GOP angered by Crist’s defection. Scott repeated campaign promises of lower taxes, including an end to the corporate income tax, and took up a newly zealous interest in making it harder to sue, saying, “We will not allow excessive lawsuits to strangle job creation.”
Despite suggestions from his transition team that unemployment benefits should be cut for some out of work people, Scott took a compassionate tone in laying out the urgency of reducing the ranks of the jobless.
“This morning more than a million Floridians got out of bed and faced another day of unemployment,” Scott said. “For months they’ve searched for work. They fill out applications. They beg for interviews. They face rejection after rejection.
“Many people who once earned a good living on a construction site—when the economy stalled, building stopped—found themselves with skills, but no degree, and absolutely no job,” he continued.
Scott said he knows from experience that many parents are trying to put on a brave face, but can’t hide their fear that “the wolf is at the door.” If unchecked, high unemployment, Scott said, creates a spiral into hopelessness.
“For all the unemployed, life without a paycheck is a desperate daily scramble to provide the basics,” Scott said. “I’ve been a child in a home like that. My father was often laid off. My mother took in ironing just so we could have food on the table.”
Scott said his childhood experience has driven him as an adult to help parents avoid the same fear and uncertainty he saw in his parents by creating jobs.
“My personal memories fortify my commitment to this mission,” Scott said.
Scott acknowledged that the traditional promise of success arising from hard work seems hollow when the jobs just aren’t there. But expanding the role of government is the wrong answer, he said to cheers.
Instead, Scott promised to get government out of the way so the private sector can create jobs. He said lower taxes, less regulation and fewer lawsuits would pave the way to recovery.
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