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March 6, 2001
Source: Executive Office of the governor

“Let me begin by saluting the new legislators who join us today,” Governor Bush said. “For many in this room this is a day of long-awaited fulfillment. You and your families should be proud of what you have accomplished. In some ways, your journey ends today. In others, it is just the beginning.”

Governor Bush proceeded to outline how eight years ago Floridians took to the polls and changed our constitution and voted that no politician should spend more than eight years in office. In doing so, Floridians made room for the new legislators who participated in today’s opening session. “This class of freshmen legislators is the first to carry forward that charge,” Governor Bush said. “This year we have sixty-two new legislators. In two years, every legislator will stand for re-election. Each of you here today- - freshman and experienced legislator alike- - is called upon to meet the challenges of a future that is rushing to meet us.” The Governor praised the Legislature for their work in transforming our public schools into centers of excellence through the Bush/Brogan A+ Plan, enacting tough anti-crime laws resulting in the greatest decrease in crime in almost 30 years, a long-term commitment to our quality of life by enacting the Florida Forever program, and returning over $1 billion to the Florida taxpayer - the largest tax cut in the state’s history. The Governor also re-affirmed his commitment to reform the state’s employment system. “Now is the time to reform our employment system so that, like the world-class service organizations that are driving Florida’s economy, state government can provide the effective and efficient service that its sixteen million citizens rightfully expect,” Governor Bush said. Governor Bush also proposed the following: · A $531 million, 4.5 percent increase in funding for K-12 public schools, including $51 million for teacher recruitment and retention initiatives.

  • ·An additional $51 million for services to the developmentally disabled. This represents a 70 percent increase over three years, to provide a more comprehensive, choice-based system for our developmentally disabled clients.
  • A $54 million increase to improve community care options for the state’s elders, a 61 percent increase over three years; and $46 million in new funding to improve the quality of nursing home care.
  • An additional $42 million in child welfare funding for a total of $761 million, an 87 percent increase since Governor Bush took office.
  • An investment of $336 million in drug control efforts to help reach the Governor’s goal of cutting drug use by 50 percent by 2005.
  • $100 million to continue the state’s commitment to restore the Everglades and $300 million to enhance public access to lands through the Florida Forever Program.

“Improving public schools, providing quality long-term care, dealing with development, cutting taxes, these are all issues that should be at the forefront of the public agenda,” Governor Bush said. “Appropriately, they focus on the needs that directly confront those we are bound to serve.”