In the annual state address Tuesday, Gov. Jeb Bush urged voters to repeal two amendments that are harming Florida’s budget. Tuesday also began the first meeting of a 60-day legislative session for funding decisions that Bush said are “extremely painful” because of the class-size and high-speed rail amendments.
Bush said he wants voters to make another decision on whether the amendments should be kept, according to his speech, which was provided by myflorida.com.
Before Bush was re-elected in November, he made it clear he was against the class-size and high-speed rail amendments, saying the state would have to sacrifice for the expense of putting them into action.
Bush said Florida’s cost for the first phase of the high-speed rail could be about $2.7 billion and $12 billion for its full implementation. Bush added that reducing class sizes in Florida schools would be even more expensive.
“We must acknowledge that our efforts to strengthen our economy and protect our people are hampered by expensive constitutional amendments,” Bush said. “We must also keep in mind that the voters had two noble objectives … to improve education and transportation.”
In Bush’s fifth State of the State address, he added that Florida must continue to maintain domestic security efforts. However, that will call for more money from the Legislature. To prepare, Bush said he is proposing to create a $40-million emergency fund that will be taken from a near $3 billion in reserves that has been saved throughout the past three years.
“Our state reserves should not be utilized recklessly, and I hope we do not have to use them at all,” Bush said.
In addition, Bush said he puts his support behind his brother President George W. Bush and that Florida citizens must first recognize that the “nation is in a state of war.”
Bush also named Toni Jennings as the first woman lieutenant governor. Jennings is the 16th lieutenant governor in Florida and replaces former Lieutenant Gov. Frank Brogan, who will serve as the president of Florida Atlantic University.