Florida Governor Rick Scott vowed to maintain his focus on jobs, boosting employment by shrinking government, as he was sworn in for a second term.
“You have heard me constantly talk about jobs since 2010 when I got into the race,” Scott, a 62-year-old Republican, said in his 18-minute inaugural address today in Tallahassee. “I want to promise you I’m not going to stop.”
Scott adhered in his speech to themes that defined his first term in the third most-populous state. He said he would seek to cut taxes by $1 billion, recruit businesses from other states and increase education spending.
Promising deliberate reticence on social issues and national politics, Scott didn’t touch on topics that have thrust Florida into the spotlight such as climate change and relations with Cuba.
“Jobs have been my focus for the last four years,” Scott told hundreds of supporters, including Texas Governor Rick Perry and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “Jobs will be my mission for the next four years.”
Scott won re-election with 48 percent of the vote, beating Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist by about 64,000 votes out of about 6 million cast. Scott, who spent more than $80 million of his own money during his two campaigns for governor, won both races with less than half of voters supporting him.
Florida’s economy has improved under Scott, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.8 percent in November from 10.9 percent when he took office four years ago.
As Scott has highlighted the growth in jobs, his detractors have faulted him for avoiding other issues facing the state. Mike Fasano, a former Republican state Senator whom Scott appointed tax collector of Pasco County, endorsed Crist last year.
“There’s no question in my mind that several issues are on the table that unfortunately Governor Scott has not been a leader on,” Fasano said, citing in particular the expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health-care program for the poor.
Before Scott spoke, Floridians who had started jobs during his tenure praised him in brief statements.
Chris Hudson, Florida director of Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group co-founded by billionaire energy executives Charles and David Koch, said he was pleased with Scott’s first term and expects the focus to remain on the economy.
“He cut taxes in the first term, and a number of employment opportunities came about,” he said. “Jobs are his focus and we think that reducing government and getting it out of the way is the real catalyst for job growth.”
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