Hope, Safety, and Opportunity http://www.flgov.com/budget
As the people’s Governor, I am continuing my efforts to move Florida forward and to do what is right for the people of Florida. Together, we have accomplished many significant goals during this past year and the People’s Budget reflects my continued commitment to improve the quality of life of every Floridian and to strengthen Florida’s economic and business climate. While we are facing extraordinary economic times, it is especially important for government to spend the people’s money wisely and live within its means, just as Florida’s families do every day. I believe that our budget represents these ideals and strives to improve the lives of our citizens. Due to the challenging economic conditions that Florida and indeed, our nation, are experiencing, our state must make wise choices in order to balance the budget within available funds. In 2007, decreasing revenues necessitated a special session that reduced the current fiscal year budget by $1.2 billion. These times reinforce the need for fiscal discipline. Thanks to the thoughtful planning and fiscally conservative approach of the former administration and the Legislature, we have been able to build adequate financial reserves that we can now use to fund and sustain momentum for the necessary services for the people of our state. Because of these reserves, we have been able to avoid deep cuts to important programs that protect and care for Florida’s most vulnerable citizens – our children, our elderly, and our disabled. However, there is good news on the horizon for Florida’s economy. In the coming fiscal year, economists tell us that we should begin to see Florida’s economy improve, spurred by changes to the burdensome property tax assessment structure. Property owners began to see property tax relief in the Fall of last year with the passage of Senate Bill 2B, but this help has been substantially bolstered by the Legislature’s passage of Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution. Approval of Amendment 1 will allow Floridians to keep more of their hard-earned money and use it to reignite the state’s economic engine. In addition to these immediate benefits, citizens that wish to move will gain the freedom to purchase a new home without huge tax penalties, and rental home owners, second home owners and businesses will all benefit by limited future tax increases. Most importantly, my proposed budget reflects a comprehensive plan to address the people’s priorities for the future. The recommendations ensure the continued safety of Floridians, provide teachers the opportunity to earn more, enhance funding for reading coaches in Florida schools, protect Florida’s natural resources, and provide assistance for community revitalization. My proposals also address innovative ways to meet Florida’s growing energy needs, through energy efficiency and reliance on domestically produced fuels, while reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Additionally, my proposed budget includes incentives to spur economic development and funding for new transportation projects. Finally, financial support is provided to those who adopt children with special needs from foster care, to fund important health care programs, and to assist homeowners in strengthening their homes against potential hurricanes. This budget reflects the priorities and needs of the people and relies on Florida’s strong reserves to build a bridge to Florida’s future and better economic times. We will preserve the hope, safety, opportunity and optimism of the people of our great state.