Florida politicians respond to State of the Union address

1:20 AM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- President Barack Obama touched on many topics in tonight's State of the Union address, including the economy, immigration, and the minimum wage.

LINK: Read the State of the Union speech in full
SEE ALSO: Reality check: Context of State of the Union

Florida politicians are weighing in on the president's speech. Sen Bill Nelson released the following statement:

"I'm very frustrated because it's hard to get anything done in Washington and yet I'm really optimistic because for the first time in years we passed a budget, then we fleshed it out with a big appropriation bill that really helped out a number of parts including NASA. And now we're about to pass a farm bill that will help save the Florida citrus industry. And so really in the midst of being very frustrated I am optimistic about the future of our country."

Gov. Rick Scott, meanwhile, chose to focus on what the president didn't say.

Gov. Scott said in his own statement, "President Obama has had more memorable speeches. But, in fairness, it's hard to top 'if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan.' Unfortunately, what we didn't hear tonight was how he would make healthcare more affordable by undoing his failed law or how he would undo the outrageous flood insurance hikes he forced on Floridians."

Sen. Marco Rubio believes President Obama missed a few opportunities in his speech. Here is his statement:

"Americans deserve more opportunities to achieve a better life, and that's going to require a free enterprise economy that's creating more middle class jobs and a government with less debt. While the President discussed some areas of common interest, the heart of his 2014 agenda is clearly more about working alone than with the American people's representatives on the major reforms we need.

"President Obama missed an opportunity on several fronts, especially by insisting that Washington keep spending more money than it takes in, keep dictating to entrepreneurs how to run their businesses, and failing to level with the American people about how we can save our retirement programs. We need a real opportunity agenda that helps people seize the enormous potential that the coming years hold."

Rep. Kathy Castor's statement focused on the economy.

"Every American deserves an opportunity to succeed in life. As the economy improves, we must ensure that the rising tide lifts all boats.  I agree with the President that this must be a year of action and Congress should focus on jobs, starting with comprehensive immigration reform, which would boost our local economy; increasing access to early childhood education and college affordability; and fighting for equal pay and a higher minimum wage.

"Tampa Bay recently was named one of the nation's fastest-growing metro economies, but Florida's major cities are ranked in the bottom half when it comes to upward mobility. Our small businesses and middle-class families have worked hard to recover from the great recession, and they too should have the same opportunities to continue to grow in the future. I am optimistic about the economic future of my neighbors in the Tampa Bay area, but opportunities must be available to all and we have challenges that we must work on together.

"I support the President's Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers and urge Congress to take further action this year to raise the minimum wage, which has not been increased for nearly five years.

"My guest this year for the State of the Union is Nikki Gaskin-Capehart, who for years has worked in the public and private sectors improving economic security for our neighbors in Tampa Bay. Today, as Director of Urban Affairs for the City of St. Petersburg, Ms. Capehart is a local champion for quality jobs and economic mobility. I am working with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Ms. Capehart on renewal efforts to improve St. Petersburg's challenged communities and provide neighbors eager to work with opportunities for success through jobs, affordable housing and training.  All across the Tampa Bay area, we must fight to bring the types of needed investments in education, infrastructure and research that will bring high-paying jobs to Tampa Bay and increase opportunities for the middle-class and small businesses to prosper."

Former Florida CFO Alex Sink, who is running for the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young's seat, also released a statement tonight:

"I appreciate the President's call for renewed action from a Congress that has too often been paralyzed by partisanship and gridlock. Washington's frustrating failure to focus on growing our economy for middle class families and helping businesses and entrepreneurs create good paying jobs simply cannot stand. No political party has a monopoly on good ideas, but Republicans and Democrats must come together to focus on tackling the challenges that truly matter for Pinellas families. I have practiced these bipartisan, results-oriented values as a business leader and Florida's CFO, and it's these values that I will bring to Congress."

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