Scott sounds re-election themes as 2013 session opens

Gov. Rick Scott previewed what sounded remarkably like a re-election campaign slogan -- "It works!" -- as he opened the 2013 legislative session by urging state lawmakers to give him a $2,500 teacher pay raise and tax breaks for job-producing industries. Just minutes before the governor delivered his third State of the State speech, House Speaker Will Weatherford delivered an unusually blunt rejection of Scott's recent turnabout on expansion of Medicaid to about 1 million more poor people. Scott, citing his late mother's struggle to provide health care when he was a small boy, did not reply to Weatherford's comment, made before his arrival in the flower-bedecked House chamber. However, the governor reiterated his reasoning that not taking promised federal money for a three-year Medicaid expansion would simply mean the money will go to other states. As Scott made that remark, the 44 House Democrats, seated in the rear rows of the chamber, leapt to their feet to whoop and applaud. The Republican majority sat in polite silence. Scott's about-face touched off a furor among former supporters within the Republican Party, particularly among the tea party base that lifted him to the GOP nomination over the party establishment candidate, former Attorney General Bill McCollum. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant dismissed Scott's speech as "poll-tested promises." She said Scott, recognizing his low approval ratings in polls, was "desperately trying to reverse course on his toxic tea party agenda." Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, said he was encouraged by Scott's education plans but that "teacher pay in Florida remains $10,000 below the national average, and that's not competitive pay for a state that seeks to be a leader in economic development.",0,331200.story


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