By John Celock
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) kicked off his second term by touting his work to lower taxes, saying that it has led to an economic boom for the state.
Scott, who was sworn-in Tuesday afternoon in Tallahassee, focused his inaugural address on job creation, saying that he plans to travel the country to lure jobs and people to Florida. Scott, a former healthcare executive, was reelected in November over former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) in one of the most competitive gubernatorial races in the country.
“I have a message today for the people of New York, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and others. Move to Florida. We want you to keep more of your money,” Scott said. “We understand it’s your money not ours. We want to compete globally and we want to win. In the next four years I will be traveling to your state and personally recruit your business to move to Florida.”
Scott said that he plans to tout the work he has done to cut taxes and the future tax cuts he has planned for the state. He said that former New York and Illinois residents who have come to Florida have pumped billions into the Florida economy and tax coffers, while hurting their former states. He was quick to note that Florida has recently overtaken New York as the third most populous state in the country.
“Millions of people have escaped from states with higher tax rates to go to states with lower tax rates,” Scott said.
Scott directly challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who was in attendance, saying that he plans to have Florida overtake Texas in the amount of job creation based on tax cuts. Scott’s national tour to lure jobs to Florida is similar to a tour that Perry, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, embarked on in 2013 to bring jobs to Texas.
Scott’s challenge against Texas is not uncommon around the country. In 2013, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has been cutting taxes in his state, used his State of the State speech to warn “look out Texas, here comes Kansas.”
While Scott used his inaugural address to touch on issues such as promoting environmental protection, increasing funding for education, keeping college tuition stable and to tout a $25 billion road improvement program, the speech and ceremony kept focusing back on job creation.
“A lot of people ask me why I ran for governor. I ran for governor to change lives. To make it better for other people,” Scott said. “I watched my parents struggle to make ends meet. To change a life you can start by giving a person a good job.”
Prior to Scott’s address, Florida residents who have found new jobs during his first term briefly spoke to the crowd, touting the economic conditions put in place by the Republican. In his speech Scott noted that he proposed the creation of 700,000 jobs within seven years when he first took office four years ago. He said that those jobs were created in less than four years because of his policies.
Scott, who has been a frequent critic of President Barack Obama and the federal government, also said that job creation will fight the “silent growth of government, which he said was a needed focus for the state.
Perry was not the only out of state governor attending the Florida ceremony. Scott also recognized the attendance of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Christie, who chaired the Republican Governors Association last year, played a role in Scott’s reelection by directing RGA resources to the Florida race.
In addition to Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi (R), Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (R) and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) were sworn in for second terms. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R) was sworn-in for his first full term, after being appointed by Scott last year to fill a vacancy resulting from the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R) in 2013.
While Republicans dominate Florida government, including control of the state Legislature, Scott called for nonpartisan governing in his second term.
“We should not let partisan politics or any politics get in our way,” he said. “Today we embark on an incredible journey for the benefit of each and every Floridian.”