I am grateful for Florida's fair share of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The stimulus dollars coming to Florida are critical to our economy and will help the hardworking people of my state. These funds will serve as a bridge to better economic times.
There is no doubt: These are historic and hard times for our nation. Yet I am optimistic about the future because of the innovation of our people, like the many hardworking Floridians I meet every day.
Challenges like those we face today provide a valuable opportunity for us to make government better, more efficient and more accountable to the people we serve. The troubles in our economy are having a real effect on those people, who are looking for work and searching for hope. Businesses in my state and across the country are struggling to stay afloat. Families are tightening their belts.
Government must tighten its belt, as well. Over the past two years in Florida, we have cut $7 billion in spending. Yet we have rightly maintained our commitment to our schools, to the most vulnerable among us and to our environment.
I recently unveiled my $66.5 billion budget recommendation for next year, in which I propose using $4.7 billion in federal stimulus money. Without these funds, we would need to cut an additional $3.4 billion in programs. This money will help us avoid tax increases and prevent deep cuts that would further burden Florida's families and businesses.
Florida will receive an estimated $12.2 billion in federal stimulus funds over three budget years. The package will provide tax credits, as well as immediate assistance in education, transportation, unemployment compensation and other aid. The stimulus money is expected to create 206,000 jobs in my state, jobs that the people of Florida need.
Yes, we all need to be vigilant about keeping government as efficient and accountable as possible. But this stimulus is necessary in these trying times.
Charlie Crist is the Republican governor of Florida.
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