Summary of the Florida State of the State Address
By Stateline Staff
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's final state of the state address March 2 was as much a campaign stump speech for his bid for the U.S. Senate as a plan for this year's spring legislative session.
Crist touted many achievements from his single term as governor and called for practicality over partisanship in government. The governor trails in polls for the Republican Senate primary to the more conservative Mark Rubio, a former Florida House speaker.
The governor again defended the federal stimulus plan, which included aid that helped balance Florida's books for the current year. Rubio has attacked Crist for supporting the Recovery Act.
"Given our budget shortfalls and given that Floridians were paying for part of the stimulus package, doesn't it make sense to spend our energies maximizing the benefit of that package?" Crist asked. "Isn't it our duty to advocate for Florida to receive its fair share? Isn't that more helpful to Floridians than engaging in hollow ideological posturing that achieves nothing?"
Crist returned to another old topic, a gambling compact with the Seminole tribe that the Legislature has twice rejected.
"Whether we approve this compact or not, it does not alter the reality that the Seminoles are currently running a number of casinos in Florida and, in fact, have been running gaming operations for decades," he said. "And to date, the citizens of Florida have received no direct financial benefit from their operations."
The governor told lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chambers that they should focus on three main areas: jobs, improvements to schools and universities and ethics.