who have honored me with a
second term as Governor. I am humbled and grateful for the trust you
have placed in me.
it be that only four years ago we paused under these oaks to talk
about the future with an enthusiasm, and in hindsight, an innocence,
that was unique to that day? Only four years, yet a generation's
wisdom learned in that time.
goals achieved and hardships endured, we have seen the world change in
ways that were then unimaginable. It is fitting and good that we, as
Floridians, return here today wiser and more resolute, with the energy
and commitment to continue our journey forward. But most important is
this: That we come here today as a people; as a community; as a state
that has for the first time in our modern experience united behind
common goals that elevate all of us and the least of us.
how will we realize our destiny? We will do it with the grace of God,
a fierce determination, and the lessons we have learned.
of you who were here for the last inaugural may remember the warm
tropical breeze that enveloped our capital city. I hope you also
remember my message that day. I said that government is not the
answer; that we must build a life centered on faith, friends and
family. Four years later, I am more convinced than ever that if we
remain true to this focus our lives will be fulfilling and meaningful.
is grounded in humility, gratitude, and generosity; an acknowledgement
that through life we have been given a gift that is wholly unearned
and never fully understood. It requires the difficult acceptance that
we are loved, despite our flaws, just as we should love others,
despite theirs. In our darkest hours, it is what sustains us. In our
final darkness, it will bring us light.
too, sustain us. Through laughter and loyalty, they fill our lives
through a bond made all the more extraordinary because it is freely
chosen. This, too, is a priceless gift, and many listening today have
blessed me with their friendship. Through these relationships a life
is made rich; and through the web of relationships that spring from
friendship a society emerges and flourishes.
then there is family. It is family that taught me the importance of
faith and friends. These weren't conclusions I drew based on reading
or research, but on seeing my own parents make these their priorities.
My mom and dad are here today, and each remains for me a very personal
and compelling example of a life fully lived; of people who have
experienced both the triumphs and pain that come from giving
themselves over to the vibrant core of human experience and to the
service of others. To this day, I call my dad for advice, and his
response is always as gracious as it is wise. He is now and forever my
my mother, she doesn't usually wait for my call. She calls me. And
what she lacks in coddling, she more than makes up for in smaller
phone bills by keeping her comments short, to the point, and right on
any rate, my parents have shown me that when we accept personal
responsibility for ourselves and those we love, we don't have to
invent government programs that apply complex rules to matters better
addressed by profound human caring. What is a checklist compared to
kindness? What is agency procedure compared to compassion?
without a caring society, without each citizen voluntarily accepting
the weight of responsibility, government is destined to grow even
larger, taking more of your money, burrowing deeper into your lives.
the mathematics of the tragedy: Each year in
, eighty thousand children
are born without a father in the home. Each year, there are
eighty-five thousand abortions. And each year, eighty thousand
marriages are dissolved. Sadly, today, almost fifty thousand children
are in the custody of the state, and hundreds of thousands more aren't
receiving the child support they are due. The numbers are so
staggering, the implications so bleak, that we can become numb to the
human toll they exact.
the past, our response has been to raise more taxes, grow more
government, and embrace the thin fiction that if only we can hire one
more social worker or complete one more form then we can somehow
reverse these corrosive trends and salvage these lives. But while
these intentions may be noble these methods are folly. Government will
never fill the hollowness of the human heart. It can only be filled by
a like kind substance. It can only be filled by another human heart.
in the end, while I am the one who takes this oath today, when we
leave this place your responsibility is as sacred as mine: Through our
example and our deeds we should strive to shape our society through
kindness and caring. In our businesses, we should give moms and dads
time to be parents with their children. In our hectic daily lives, we
should fiercely guard a time for selflessly helping the most
vulnerable and needy. In our most private moments alone, we should
reflect on our unearned gifts and rededicate our lives to those around
us. In a thousand ways we can be more accepting, more giving, more compassionate.
if we are, we can embed in society a sense of caring that makes
government less necessary. There would be no greater tribute to our
maturity as a society than if we can make these buildings around us
empty of workers; silent monuments to the time when government played
a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill.
this is a distant destination, and there are many steps in the
journey. I am reminded of the wisdom of Governor Leroy Collins, the
man I consider to be
’s greatest Governor. When
describing his leadership, Governor Collins said that the proper role
of the chief executive is to make sure we navigate the ship out of the
harbor but not beyond the horizon where it can no longer be seen by
those on shore.
we should pause and reflect on the visible. In my first term, with
your help we set and achieved some remarkable goals. We dramatically
reduced the rate of violent crime by imposing swift and certain
justice on those who illegally use guns and punished to a greater
extent repeat violent offenders. We signed an historic accord to save
. We significantly increased
resources for the developmentally disabled and made them a focus of
at the pinnacle of our achievements sits education, and appropriately
so. Better education is the fundamental mechanism by which a society is
elevated and transformed. Every small accumulation of knowledge and
skill in each person is amplified to huge effect over a lifetime.
have done nothing less than revolutionize education in
. We have built a school
system that is accountable to our students and parents. It has not
been painless, and the protectors of the status quo have resisted
every step of the way. In the end, we have prevailed…but it is our
students who are achieving victory.
changes we have made will not be undone because the people of
understand their power. Can
it be that just four years ago parents were left to guess whether
their children's school was giving them a good education? How is it
possible that we tolerated a bureaucracy that was indifferent to the
success or failure of a child? We will never,
never, never go back!
will only go forward. If education is the most important function of
government, then reading is the most important skill to be derived
from education. That is why it is my goal over the next four years t o
make reading an enduring core value of our state. This means showing
the way for all to be involved. It means making sure that our early
childhood programs have reading as their highest priority and that our
teachers are fully skilled to teach reading. It means that parents and
mentors have our full support in their selfless campaign to instill in
our children a love of the written word.
that is why we have developed a battle plan that is aggressive and
bold, committing massive resources to nurture the skill that is the
basis of productivity and understanding.
as we will be equipping citizens with the tools to thrive in an
increasingly complex world, it is my goal in the next four years to
help grow an economy that will give our people the opportunities they
deserve. Already we have seen the wisdom of cutting taxes and red
tape. While other states have languished in our national economic
has been a national leader
in the creation of new jobs.
the great inventor Thomas Edison said, “Restlessness and discontent
are the first necessities of progress.”
must never be merely content with the progress we have made in
we must always be restless.
We must always strive to do better.
need to build an economy that creates not just new jobs, but better
jobs; careers that enhance the quality of our lives, and protect the
integrity of our natural environment. I will make it my calling to
bring these jobs to this state.
finally, it is my most ambitious goal to provide the catalyst, in
small ways and large, that will bring our families closer together. I,
for one, intend to begin with my own family. Although it is an
intensely private -and at times painful-matter, you should know I have
rededicated myself to being a better father and husband. Looking today
at the faces of my wife and children, all three of them, I realize
that any sense of fulfillment I have from this event is meaningless
unless they, too, can find fulfillment in their lives. They have
sacrificed greatly for me, and I love them dearly.
so that their sacrifices and yours have not been wasted, and that our
hopes and dreams for our beloved Florida are fully realized, I leave
you with this thought: In my first inaugural address at the dawn of
this new century, I talked about how the forces of the previous
hundred years would shape my first four years in office. Today, I want
you to consider how we may, in the next four years, shape the hundred
years that come after.
a mere 48 months, another person will be standing on this spot,
placing his or her hand on the Bible, taking the oath of office and
becoming our next governor. Our principles must endure beyond that
person and those who come after. They must be intractably rooted in a
culture that demands excellence, not adequacy; that exalts in the
individual, not government; and that through compassion, rather than
compulsion, provides solace and support for the most vulnerable among
can be our legacy. This can be Florida.
it begins today.
begins with you.
bless you all, and God bless Florida.