Scott opens 2013 session: Reflects on his record, “it’s working”by John Kennedy | March 5th, 2013
Rick Scott opened the 2013 Legislature with a State of the State speech Tuesday in which he took credit for bringing the state back from the economic brink but also laid out plans for his toughest test yet – a two-month battle with fellow Republicans over Medicaid expansion.
Scott urged lawmakers to embrace his push for more money for teachers and schools, a tax break for manufacturers, and the challenging goal of expanding Medicaid eligibility to provide health coverage to another 1 million lower-income Floridians.
With his re-election bid only a year away, Scott reflected on his two years leading the state – and declared it a success. He repeatedly used the refrain, “it’s working.”
“Two years ago, we began the hard work to get our state’s economy back on track,” Scotttold lawmakers gathered for a joint-session in a flower bedecked House chamber. “Today, we know it’s working.”
Scott credited his administration and the Republican-controlled Legislature for reducing sky-high unemployment through restrained spending, cutting regulations and reducing state debt.
Scott, who could face a re-election challenge from former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, blamed previous administrations for “shortsighted policies of borrowing,” that he said helped fuel Florida’s collapse.
“Now, there is a debate about how to count all the jobs being created, and who should get credit for it,” Scott told lawmakers.
“Maybe it is because I am not a politician, but I think this is a great debate to have,” he added. “It celebrates the fact that our economy is once again creating jobs…And, as Ronald Reagan said, there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care
about who gets the credit.”
Scott’s third State of the State address comes at a challenging time, however, for the Republican governor. His $74.2 billion budget proposal – the largest in state history – has been blistered by tea party groups which supported him in his
But Scott antagonized a larger swath of Republicans last month by calling on lawmakers to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. For Scott, it was a dramatic policy reversal that is going to prove a tough sell with lawmakers.