Published: Mar 11, 2011 6:39 PM EST
Updated: Mar 11, 2011 3:40 PM EST

DAVIE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott defended proposed budget cuts to education and child welfare Friday, saying they were necessary to make good on his plan to create 700,000 jobs in Florida.

Talking to reporters after addressing the Broward Workshop, a business group, Scott called recent high-profile cases of children who were horrifically abused or killed "tragic" and said he was confident the Department of Children and Families would devise a plan to address its shortcomings. But he said the agency would still need to make do with less.

"We all have to understand that every family in this state has had to tighten their belt. We've got to figure out how to do more with less," he said. "If we don't, we're never going to grow jobs in this state."

Scott has proposed a $2.77 billion budget for DCF in 2011-12, $172 million less than its current budget. He's also proposed cutting 1,849 positions - from 13,186 to 11,337.

The Republican governor spoke similarly on education, saying it's key to future success. But he said it was necessary to cut spending, adding that he was focused on making sure the best teachers are paid more and giving people as much choice as possible.

About $3.3 billion of Scott's $5 billion in proposed spending cuts are for education. Public school officials say his proposal to slash spending by up to $703 per student, or 10 percent, would result in laying off thousands of teachers.

"Every school district is going to have to figure out how to do better with less," he said.

--- Associated Press writer Bill Kaczor contributed to this report from Tallahassee.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)