Scott to Stress Cooperation in State of State

By Brendan Farrington, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Rick Scott plans to present a theme of cooperation during his second State of the State address Tuesday, but will say there’s one issue that’s non-negotiable: raising education spending by $1 billion.

The Republican governor will address senators and representatives at about 11:30 a.m. as lawmakers begin the first day of their annual 60-day session. Scott will tout job growth since he took office and share credit with lawmakers, saying that dealing with a $4 billion shortfall by cutting government and not raising taxes helped, according to excerpts of the speech obtained Monday.

“Last session, together we made the changes necessary to improve the opportunities for the citizens of our state. Education, pension and Medicaid reforms coupled with government reorganization and deregulation have all helped to produce jobs, save taxpayer money, improve the education of our children and bring down the cost of living for all Floridians,” Scott plans to say.

Last year, the former CEO was criticized early in his first term for not cooperating with lawmakers while trying to push through an agenda even Republican leaders politely criticized as being too ambitious and which Democrats said went too far to the right.

This year, he’s trying to set a new tone.

“No person, profession or party has a monopoly on all the good ideas. The commitment I make to those here today is to keep open, clear lines of communication so that together our time in the Capitol can best be spent in the service of those who sent us here. That is my pledge to you,” Scott plans to say.

But his proposal to boost school spending by $1 billion is the one thing he will insist on, pointing to conversations with Floridians across the state who told him improving schools is the most significant thing the state can do to ensure short- and long-term economic prosperity.

“I ask you to please consider that recommendation very carefully,” Scott plans to say. “On this point, I just cannot budge.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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