Rick Scott shows compassion for the unemployed, says little about vouchers in his inaugural address

In what might be the headline from the speech, Scott paraphrased the words of David Frum, the speechwriter for George W. Bush in his 2003 State of the Union Address, in calling taxation, regulation and litigation "the Axis of Unemployment." His line calling for the state not to "allow a small group of predatory lawyers to stalk the business community in search of deep pockets" got a particularly lusty cheer (though presumably not from the law firms of Morgan & Morgan, Carlton Fields or Holland & Knight, all of whom coughed up between 15$K-$25K to fund the inauguration ceremonies).  Scott referenced what Texas was able to do on tort reform, but said he told Governor Rick Perry that the Sunshine State will do better than Perry's Lone Star State has done on the issue.


Scott couldn't go through a whole speech without blasting Washington Democrats. He said that expanding government is "absolutely the wrong approach" to deal with the still fetal business environment. "It creates magical thinking to believe that government creates prosperity," he remarked. "Government has no resources of its own. Government can only give to us what they previously took from us."


Towards the end of his speech, somewhat uncharacteristically Scott got a little dreamy and idealistic, perhaps realizing that part of his new job as leader is to raise the hopes of an electorate that according to one public opinion poll is already down on him, before the honeymoon even begins.


Let's tell the world: "If you can dream it, it's EASY to make it HAPPEN in Florida."


Why NOT? After all, we have always been the destination for dreamers. The place where someone with a big new idea could give it a try. Railroads into the wilderness. A magic kingdom. A trip to the moon. Freedom from a foreign tyrant. Better health, life without winter. Large and small, dreams are the stuff that Florida is made of.


In keeping with the positivity vibe, Scott barely mentioned about education, which seems to be the area in which he will make the most radical changes, based on his activities over the past few weeks leading up to today's inauguration.  His vouchers-for-all plan (officially dubbed Education Savings Accounts) has set off widespread concerns in the public education sector in the state, prompting some advocates to tell all teachers or those who care about public schools to wear some sort of red in their clothing choices today.


While Scott, a former businessman, is resolute that he has a mandate to create a better economic climate in Florida, he's aware that his potential assault on public education will not be cheered by all, especially the press.


Scott has never exhibited any concerns about catering to the media before, but it should be interesting now that he's the leader of the state with some of the most progressive sunshine laws in the nation. He was able to speak around them for most of the campaign. What does he do now? If his inaugural speech is any indication, he'll urge his supporters (as he did today) to write letters to the editor to let the media know that they back up what he's doing.


And he didn't waste any time showing reporters the door. According to a tweet from Times-Herald reporter Mary Ellen Klas, Scott had her ejected from his first official event as governor, a lunch with Republican legislators and lobbyists that had been billed as "an open meeting."  The Sunshine Law apparently makes the new governor squint.

On the campaign trail, Rick Scott talked a lot about being a proven job creator.  In his 20-minute inauguration address on Tuesday in Tallahassee, he seemed to grasp how difficult that reality is going to be as he inherits the leadership of a state that has been contending with record unemployment.

Calling the current economic environment "the challenge of our times," Scott tried to humanize what those without work are going through, saying, "This morning more than a million Floridians got out of bed and faced another day of unemployment. For months they search for work, they fill out applications, they beg for interviews, they face rejection after rejection." And there was this: "For all of the unemployed, life without a paycheck is a desperate scramble to provide the basics." (Actually, Scott misspoke and initially said bacon). The new governor then said that his own father often went without work, and therefore he "had a clear  memory of their fear and uncertainty as they struggled to provide for five kids. So for me, job creation is an absolute mission."

So what will he do to create jobs in a fashion that his predecessor, Charlie Crist, couldn't do?  Well, for the former health care executive CEO, it's all about creating a good business environment. And to show he's serious, he called for a complete review of all state regulations, and in his first action he signed an executive order creating a state office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform "to review all proposed and existing regulations to determine their impact on job creation."

Scott flubbed his line about getting rid of the programs that don't work, inserting the word "agencies" instead. After a moment he joked that such a flub would appear in media accounts, and of course that's right, especially when as a candidate he made disparaging remarks that led Alex Sink to say he wanted to eliminate the Department of Community Affairs.

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