Introduction from Governor Rick Scott

    “Florida Families First,” our executive budget for 2013-2014, reflects not only the progress we have made in reducing the size and cost of state government but our continued focus on creating jobs, improving education and keeping the cost of living low for all Floridians. This budget will continue our progress on reducing business taxes, investing in K-12 education, making higher education more affordable and creating an environment that encourages job creation.

    In the four years before I took office, Florida lost 825,000 jobs, unemployment more than tripled – from 3.5 percent to 11.1 percent, and state debt increased by $5.2 billion. Since I took office, we have supported the creation of around 200,000 private sector jobs. Florida’s unemployment rate has declined to 8 percent. We have also eliminated over 2,300 onerous regulations, reduced government positions by over 12,000, and streamlined the permitting processes for businesses. We also reversed the 20-year trend of billion-dollar increases in state debt and paid down state debt for the first time since 1994 at a rate of $1 billion each year for the last two years.

    Over the last two years, we made the tough choices to get our economy back on track. Through cost-savings efforts, we were able to cut taxes and eliminate regulations on businesses to help them succeed and create more jobs. As a result of our work over the last two years, we have created an environment where Florida’s private sector was able to create thousands of jobs. We are also now among the best states in the country for our drop in our unemployment rate. Florida’s economy is back on track.

    The nation is taking notice of our economic turnaround. The nation’s top CEOs now rank Florida the second best state in the nation for business. We have a $24 billion trade surplus, no personal income tax, we are on our way to eliminating the business tax, and our weather and beaches attract 90 million tourists a year. The National Chamber Foundation recognized us for having the number one talent pipeline, and the National Council on Teacher Quality said Florida has the most effective teachers in the nation.

    I ran for Governor of Florida because I wanted to keep the American Dream alive for my children, my grandchildren and all future generations of Floridians. My message is simple – everything we do in government must be focused on helping families pursue their dreams by getting a great job and accessing a quality education. Growing up, my family struggled financially and we moved a lot. My parents took different jobs to afford to pay the bills. My father was a bus driver and a truck driver. My mom worked as everything from a hostess in a Chinese restaurant to a clerk at JC Penney’s. We didn’t have a fancy house or nice cars, but what I got from my parents was better than that. They taught me that the American Dream is real – and that only in this country can you start anywhere, work hard and sacrifice, and make your dreams come true. I know that the opportunity to get a quality education and find a great job is key to this success.

    In everything we do in government, I ask, “How will this impact a family making less than $50,000 a year?” That is around half of the families living in Florida today, and that was also my family growing up. This budget puts Florida Families First because it is focused on helping Florida families get a great job and a quality education. Now that our economy is back on track, it is time to invest in these two important priorities in order to drive our economic growth forward.

    My Florida Families First 2013-2014 Recommended Budget includes $18.47 billion in total funding for K-12 education, an increase of $1.25 billion, or 7.3 percent, for K-12 public schools. This increase represents per student funding of $6,799, an increase of $412, or 6.45 percent, over the current fiscal year. State funding for K-12 education totals $10.7 billion - the highest state funding level in history. Included in this historic total is $480 million to support $2,500 pay raises for Florida’s K-12 teachers, plus the cost of associated benefits.

    Additionally, my Florida Families First 2013-2014 Recommended Budget focuses on building up our state’s manufacturing sector by eliminating the tax barriers on manufacturers who buy equipment. Florida’s current manufacturing tax policy puts our state at a competitive disadvantage because most states do not force manufacturers to pay taxes on the purchase of equipment or require them to adhere to regulations for tax exemptions. We want more manufacturers to move to Florida, and this budget proposes to save manufacturers $141 million (of which $115 million is recurring state funds) so we can eliminate the taxes on manufacturing equipment.

    I am proud of what we have accomplished already in the areas of jobs and education, but there is much work left to do. As long as even one Florida family is struggling to find work or access a great education, our work is not done. This year, we will build on our successes through strategic investments that put Florida Families First.

 -- Governor Rick Scott
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