"As I predicted at the start of the session, the one single issue that sucked all of the oxygen out of the room this year was the budget.
"While the decline of our economy and our housing market certainly take a lot of the blame for the cuts we were forced to make, I'm very disappointed that the Legislature chose to take a head-in-the- sand approach when it came to ways to avert the greatest pain these cuts are going to inflict on the people of Florida .
"We had an opportunity to make real choices this session. And we did. But they were all the wrong ones.
"Democrats in the Senate offered a myriad of ways to raise additional revenue without raising taxes on our residents. We repeatedly reminded our colleagues that there was a select group of large, out of state corporations tapping our services without paying for them, driving up our taxes to pay for their free ride.
"The reluctance to close these loopholes will come back to haunt us. Sooner or later, Floridians stuck with $4.00 a gallon gasoline, $5.00 a gallon milk, and stubbornly high property taxes are going to demand accountability and equity on the tax paying field.
"I am heartened that Senate Democrats played a lead role in highlighting the plight of so many of our residents desperate for medical care who came dangerously close to losing it. The Medically Needy program is now funded thanks in large part to an outraged chorus of voices from our Caucus. So too, the many jobs in Corrections and Probation once targeted for layoff, but salvaged after our protests grew louder.
"By any accounting, this was an extremely tight budget crafted in extremely tight economic times. I salute the leadership of President Ken Pruitt who, true to his word when he began his presidency, listened to the voice of the people, not just the chosen few. His policy of inclusion, I believe, helped blunt the more drastic measures that Floridians otherwise would have faced.
The bipartisan spirit that has, thus far, embraced this chamber also led to the defeat of one of the more egregious attempts by some to force their views and their mandates where they do not belong. The defeat of the sonogram legislation was a highlight of this session.
We also saw the first step in instituting automatic compensation for those wrongfully imprisoned, the passage of legislation throwing a much needed lifeline to inner city children in Liberty City , and the recognition that children with autism can be mainstreamed if treated early. The Senate sent a very clear message on that issue which the House in the final moments of the 2008 Legislative Session - finally heeded.
Finally, we saw the passage of a Democratic initiative designed to jumpstart the economy by requiring the portion of state pension funds already invested elsewhere, to be diverted to high-tech Florida-based companies.
Putting a priority on investing in Florida is only one half of the equation. The other half is protecting the residents and the businesses here that have a vested interest in our state. This session, the numbers just aren't adding up."