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Gov. Scott Pushes Tax Cuts, Job Creation in State of the State

Gov. Rick Scott, right, waves as he is recognized by the Florida House at the start of the legislative session Tuesday in Tallahassee
AP Photo/Steve Cannon
Gov. Rick Scott, right, waves as he is recognized by the Florida House at the start of the legislative session Tuesday in Tallahassee

Gov. Rick Scott gave a State of the State speech on Tuesday that was focused almost entirely on creating jobs and cutting taxes, boasting that Florida has added more than a million jobs since he took office.

The Republican urged the Legislature to pass $1 billion in tax cuts he's proposing to further help businesses. Both of his campaigns and each of his previous State of the State speeches have centered on job creation, a point he noted when he said "Many of you know that my favorite three topics are jobs, jobs, jobs."

"Over 1 million jobs have been created in just five years since I took office. One million jobs. Now that's something every Floridian can brag about. One million jobs," Scott said in the speech he delivered as the Legislature began its 60-day session.

Scott highlighted successful Florida businesses, including a million-dollar lacrosse equipment company started two years ago by now 15-year-old Rachel Zietz of Boca Raton.

"This young small business owner now has three employees to help her out while she's in class. Rachel, thanks for making Florida first for jobs. I know you're just starting your success. Congratulations," Scott said.

The governor said for business to keep growing, the state needs to keep cutting taxes. Scott's proposed cuts are largely aimed at businesses, including the elimination of corporate income taxes for manufacturers and retailers. Scott also wants to cut sales taxes charged on commercial leases by 1 percent and permanently eliminate the sales tax charged on the sale of manufacturing equipment.

Democrats noted that Scott didn't address other important issues facing Florida, including health care and the environment.

People "should be angry with what they didn't hear today," said House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford. "The governor misses so many points and this state suffers because of that."

Even Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano mentioned the lack of other issues in the speech, saying he was surprised Scott didn't talk about the $3 billion gambling agreement he signed with the Seminole Tribe that still needs legislative approval.

"To his credit he's maintained the same message during his tenure as governor and during his campaign as well," Galvano said. "We do have many more issues that need to be addressed other than simply addressing tax cuts."

Scott also used his speech to push for his proposal to use $250 million for business incentives.

"With record state revenues, we have the opportunity to diversify our economy and help our small businesses grow by cutting taxes by $1 billion dollars," Scott said.

Scott switched subjects near the end of his speech to talk about recent attacks by or influenced by the Islamic State group.

"The hate-filled, cold-blooded events of recent months make it clear that we live in a fallen world, where terror sometimes reigns and evil seems unbridled. We've seen people at a concert ruthlessly murdered in Paris, health care workers massacred in San Bernardino and a Floridian, Steven Sotloff, beheaded at the hands of ISIS just months before," Scott said.

He asked lawmakers to stand and honor Capt. Brian McDowell of the Florida National Guard, who was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2004.

Scott ended by promoting a statewide bus tour that begins Wednesday.

"We cannot let up. Our $1 billion tax cut package and the creation of the Florida Enterprise Fund will be key elements to make Florida first for jobs in the nation for years to come. Let's work together to diversify our economy, help our weakest, our poorest and our most disadvantaged live their dreams and get a job, even when times are tough across the nation," he said.


AP reporters Gary Fineout and Joe Reedy contributed to this story.

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