On Monday, his last full day in office, outgoing Gov. Rick Scott released a public letter outlining her accomplishments during his eights years in Tallahassee.
Florida Legislators and Fellow Floridians:
When I ran for Governor of Florida in 2010, I promised to fight every single day to make Florida the best state in the nation to find a great job and build a business, live in a safe neighborhood, and receive a world-class education. Over the past eight years, our hard work has paid off.
In the four years before I took office, Florida had lost more than 800,000 jobs, taxes had increased by more than $2 billion and the economy was in complete freefall. I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of money. I watched my parents struggle to keep a job and provide for me and my siblings. My childhood taught me the value of a good job and just how important it is to invest in what matters to families. When I saw our state struggling I committed to help because turning our economy around is personal to me, and I want every family to have the opportunity to succeed.
Today, thanks to hardworking Florida businesses, and the unyielding support of millions of Florida families and the Florida Legislature, our economy is back and booming. Floridians have succeeded in ways nobody thought possible just eight short years ago. This success coupled with smart fiscal management has allowed for investments in what matters most to families – education, safe communities, protecting the environment and transportation.
I am thankful to have worked with legislators and businesses who understand the priorities of Florida families. This incredible success is a testament to our resolve to keep the promises we made and never stop fighting for every family in this great state. Here are just a few highlights of our accomplishments since 2011.
CUTTING TAXES AND FEES
Since taking office, we’ve cut taxes in Florida nearly 100 times, saving Florida families and businesses more than $10 BILLION.
We have cut fees on professional licenses, making it easier to start and grow business in Florida, saving Florida businesses and companies more than $19 million.
In the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, we fought for an amendment, which was passed by the people of Florida, to keep taxes low and make it harder for future legislators to raise taxes and fees.
FLORIDA’S BOOMING ECONOMY
Since December 2010, Florida businesses have created nearly 1.7 million private-sector jobs.
Since 2011, every county in Florida has experienced a drop in its unemployment rate.
Florida’s unemployment has dropped from 10.8 percent in 2010 to just 3.3 percent today, and every county in Florida has experienced a drop in its unemployment rate.
Florida’s GDP reached $1 trillion for the first time in the state’s history.
Over the past eight years, Enterprise Florida and its partners have established more than 1,000 competitive economic development projects, which are projected to create and retain more than 205,000 private-sector jobs and $17 billion in capital investments.
Florida’s tourism industry has thrived, and the state has experienced seven consecutive years of record visitation and visitor spending, with a record of more than 118.8 million visitors in 2017.
$85 BILLION TO TRANSFORM FLORIDA’S TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Over the past eight years, annual transportation investments have increased by $4 billion, a more than 67 percent increase, and the FY 2018-19 budget invests a record $10.1 billion in Florida’s transportation infrastructure.
Florida has invested more than $1.4 billion in seaport infrastructure, leveraging local and private funding to complete nearly $4 billion worth of capital improvement projects.
Since 2011, investments in aviation have totaled more than $2.2 billion, supporting Florida’s 20 commercial airports and the more than 460,000 passengers that travel in and out of Florida every day.
We have invested more than $230 million in spaceport projects, supporting the creation of more than 1,100 high-paying aerospace jobs since the end of the Shuttle program.
Thanks to our hard work and investments, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has ranked Florida the best state for infrastructure in the nation.
INVESTING IN EDUCATION FOR FLORIDA’S STUDENTS
Since 2011, we’ve increased total funding for K-12 schools by $4.5 billion, 27 percent.
Florida’s high school graduation rate has continued to improve, increasing by 17.1 percentage points since the school year before I took office to a 15-year high of 86.1 percent in 2017-18.
We’ve held the line on tuition for the past six years to help provide an affordable higher education to Florida students and families.
In both 2017 and 2018, U.S. News and World Report ranked Florida as the best state in the nation for higher education.
Since 2011, annual state funding for state colleges and universities has also substantially increased – by nearly $200 million and $1.1 billion, respectively.
EFFICIENCY IN GOVERNMENT
Our focus on government efficiency has resulted in Florida having the lowest payroll cost per state resident of any state in the nation.
Since 2011, Florida has paid down more than $10 BILLION in debt.
For the first time in Florida history, all three credit rating agencies rated Florida’s GO bond at AAA – saving even more taxpayer dollars on remaining loans and debt.
During my time in office, the health of the Florida Retirement System has significantly improved and the FRS Pension Plan is now funded at 83.9 percent.
During my time as Governor, we have eliminated nearly 5,400 burdensome regulations.
BETTER PROTECTIONS FOR FLORIDA’S ENVIRONMENT
Since 2011, Florida’s annual investments to preserve the environment and protect our iconic beaches, pristine springs and the Florida Everglades have increased by $1 billion.
In addition to securing full federal funding from President Donald Trump, we have fought for and secured $100 million to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike.
We have invested more than $2 billion to restore the Everglades, resulting in the acceleration of 16 Everglades projects, sending more water south and providing billions of gallons of water storage around Lake Okeechobee.
In 2017, I signed SB 10, accelerating the EAA reservoir to store even more water south of Lake Okeechobee, and went to Washington to advocate for the federal approval of this important project until it was signed into law in October 2018.
We have invested more money into Florida’s springs than any other administration in Florida history – the investments in springs protection over the past eight years total more than $450 million.
KEEPING FLORIDIANS HEALTHY
We have overseen the successful transformation of Florida’s Medicaid program away from a traditional fee-for-service model to the statewide implementation of managed care. Now, Florida’s Medicaid recipients have better healthcare at a reduced cost.
Since 2011, we have invested more than $690 million in cancer research and prevention to ensure that families have access to world-class treatment and can lead healthy lives.
We have fought to support Florida communities and families battling the national opioid epidemic, including investing more than $65 million in 2018 and directing the state to immediately draw down more than $27 million in federal grant funding in 2017.
We have committed record funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative (ADI), including investing more than $26 million in 2018 – a more than 100 percent increase in funding from 2010.
By making record investments in the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Floridians it serves, the critical needs waiting list has been completely eliminated. This means that over 5,000 more Floridians with developmental disabilities are able to access the programs and services they need to prosper in Florida.
BRINGING FLORIDA TO A 47-YEAR LOW IN CRIME
Thanks to the hard work of Florida’s law enforcement officers, the state’s crime rate is at a 47-year low.
In both 2017 and 2018, we fought for and secured pay raises for our brave law enforcement officers. Since 2011, salaries for state law enforcement have increased by more than 10 percent.
Our focus on evidence-driven re-entry and diversionary programs has reduced Florida’s recidivism rate to 24.5 percent – an all-time low – and reduced Florida’s inmate population by more than 6,000 inmates, saving taxpayers more than $100 million per year.
Since 2011, funding for at-risk youth programs and preventative services have increased by nearly 67 percent, causing juvenile arrests to decline to the lowest rate in 42 years.
Following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 innocent lives were taken, working with the Florida Legislature, we fought for and secured the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act, which invests nearly $375 million to keep our students and communities safe.
After Florida’s Jewish community received hateful threats, we fought for and secured more than $2.65 million in funding for security at Jewish Day Schools.
HONORING AND SUPPORTING MILITARY AND VETERANS
Since 2011, we have secured more than $1.3 billion in funding to support Florida’s active duty military, veterans and their families.
As a Navy veteran and the son of a World War II veteran, thanking Florida’s veterans for their service to the state and nation has been one of my top priorities. Since 2013, more than 15,000 veterans have been recognized with the Governor’s Veterans Service Medal.
In the past eight years, two new veteran nursing homes were made possible – the Ardie R. Copas State Veteran Nursing Home in Port St. Lucie and the Lake Baldwin State Veteran Nursing Home in Orlando – which will accommodate 234 of Florida’s veterans.
In 2014, we passed the Florida GI Bill, creating the Education Dollars for Duty (EDD) tuition assistance program for Guard soldiers and airmen. Under EDD, Guard members may receive funding to cover up to 100 percent of tuition and fee costs incurred while they are serving the state.
In 2014, waived out-of-state tuition fees for veterans, ensuring that they can receive a high-quality education in Florida.
In 2017, for the first time, all six state veteran nursing homes achieved a Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
In 2012, we championed legislation creating a fee waiver for military veterans pursuing a professional license as they transition to the civilian workforce, helping these veterans to open businesses and find jobs in Florida.
BUILDING STRONGER FLORIDA COMMUNITIES
Since 2011, we have overseen the investment of more than $2 billion to ensure Florida is a leader in disaster preparedness and recovery.
Since 2011, Florida has invested more than $1 billion to make Florida’s affordable housing program among the best in the nation.
More than $113 million has been invested in communities across the state through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, preparing Florida for future success.
Since 2011, we have directed investments of more than $2 billion for communities to ensure the best workers are available to Florida’s job creators.
Through the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program, DEO provided more than $117 million to communities after Hurricanes Matthew and Hermine, and is in the process of providing more than $600 million to communities across Florida that were damaged after Hurricane Irma.
Rick Scott was first elected governor in 2010. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018.