As we enter 2013, like a lot of folks I'm reflecting on the years' past to find ways that we can add to our previous successes in helping Florida families. We made a lot of progress in 2012, but a new year means we have another 365 days to improve education, grow jobs and make sure the cost of living for Florida families is low. To do so, I've put together a list of my resolutions that will benefit Florida families:
1.) Grow More Jobs. Jobs are my absolute top priority. I ran on a platform of job creation, I've promised to deliver 700,000 new private sector jobs in seven years - and so far - we're well on our way with more than 200,000 jobs created by Florida businesses in two years. While we've had great successes, there's still more to do. To grow more jobs and provide each and every Florida family with the opportunity to pursue and live the American dream, we have to be the most business friendly place in the world because successful businesses hire people. To do so we've already cut 2,300 regulations, we've eliminated the business tax for 75 percent of Florida businesses - and for 2013 I'm looking to cut it for 80 percent of businesses. Today, Texas is ranked number one for job creation, but I've already told Governor Perry that he should prepare for Florida to soon take the place of the national leader in job creation.
2.) Improve Florida's Education System. The decisions we make today have tremendous effects on future generations, so for families to grow and prosper in Florida, we have to make sure we're meeting the needs of future generations by providing a quality education. To do so I've proposed my College and Career FIRST initiative, which will provide money for teachers to buy supplies they use in the classroom, cut the red tape and regulations that burden teachers, and put a hold on creating any new testing requirements that do not support our transition to Common Core. I've also asked state colleges and universities to hold the line on tuition increases. Tuition at universities has gone up on families by more than 65 percent over the last five years, and if we don't stop this dramatic climb we will make it impossible for most students to get a degree without leaving school with tremendous debt. We want our children to have the blessings of the American Dream, and to do so we have to support future generations by creating a world class education system that allows Florida families to compete and succeed.
3.) Continue to Focus on Families. When I was in high school, my teacher gave us a test to tell us what career would suit us best. My test told me I should be a social worker because I love working with people and solving problems. I'm excited about getting into communities in 2013 and having the opportunity to hear what's going on in the lives of Floridians to find more ways to help families get jobs, a great education and keep the cost of living low.
Finally, I can't forget my job as a grandfather. Over the holidays, my 14 month old grandson, Auguste, took his first steps. As he grows and learns his way through the world, Ann and I want to make sure we're there to help guide and support him. Like every parent and grandparent, we want to make sure that our kids are safe and that they have access to a quality education, so that they can pursue the career of their dreams, and ultimately, start a family of their own. In 2013, we will continue to work every day to make Florida the best place in the world for families.