With Florida's unemployment rate at 12 percent -- the highest ever recorded -- we need to invest in and encourage good paying and smart jobs, while assisting those struggling to meet mortgages and buy groceries. A stronger economy provides the tax base for quality schools, libraries, and police and fire-rescue services. As a State Senator I will work to:
Step 1 -- Fix our unemployment system
Our first priority has to be helping those that are the victims of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Our unemployment system has not been updated since its creation in 1935. The system is outdated, and simple modifications would not only make the system operate more smoothly, but would make Florida eligible to receive over $400 million in federal dollars.
Unfortunately, the Florida Republican Party, in this instance, have chosen to be to the right of Sarah Palin. While 35 other states have updated their Unemployment systems and received these vital federal dollars, Florida chose to punish our unemployed workers, our businesses, and our taxpayers.
Step 2 - Put Floridians back to work
This past session, the Republicans in Tallahassee decided to take money from the transportation fund. This was a bad idea, and Governor Crist deserves credit for using his line-item veto to stop it.
There is one guaranteed way to stimulate the economy and get people to work -- build infrastructure. The money that we put into fixing our roads and building bridges goes directly to workers in the state of Florida.
Step 3 -- Invest in our future
Florida is blessed with abundant natural resources, and one of the best ways to ensure that we have sustained economic growth is to develop these resources. Currently, our economy relies heavily on tourism and agriculture. We need a broader base of industries if we are to have a prosperous economy into the future.
We have thousands of miles of coastline for ocean and tidal power. Indeed, steps are being taken to research this clean and endless supply of energy at our own Florida Atlantic University. (See this fantastic story about the work they're doing here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16713781).
We can also use sugar cane waste for fuel. There is already one plant of this type in operation here in South Florida, and we should continue research into areas such as these, where waste products can be reused and recycled.