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Florida Democratic Party News Clips — April 22, 2013

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WITH 12 DAYS LEFT IN SESSION, SCOTT'S PRIORITIES LANGUISH

Gov. Rick Scott's Priorities in Danger as Session Hits Crucial Stage [Tampa Bay Times] "[...] His top priority of a $2,500 teacher pay raise appears in budget proposals not as the across-the-board, no-strings increase he advocated; instead, legislators want a portion of it tied to performance. On Sunday, both houses came to agreement on how to handle the merit raises, unifying them as at odds with the governor....Scott's other goal, a modest sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment, is sluggishly moving forward after weeks of legislative indifference.Then there's Medicaid. Two months after Scott brazenly championed an expansion of Medicaid that he had fought for years, Weatherford remains intractable. He opposes accepting billions in federal money to expand the health care program and Scott has done nothing to try to change the minds of the speaker or his top lieutenants."

 

Florida Governor Rick Scott's Attempt to Get Pay Raises for State's Teachers Not Successful [WPTV] "Fla. Gov. Rick Scott isn't going to succeed in getting $2,500 pay raises for the state's teachers. Florida legislators meeting over the weekend have settled on setting aside nearly $500 million to boost teacher pay. But House and Senate budget negotiators made it clear they will not hand out raises the way Scott wanted. Instead, legislators will push ahead with a proposal to base the raises on teacher performance. They also plan to offer raises to beyond classroom teachers -- a move which could also lower the amount offered to each employee. Scott had made the across the board teacher pay raise one of his top priorities for the 2013 session. But legislators had signaled their reluctance with the proposal from the start."

 

At Odds with Gov. Scott, Lawmakers Align on Teacher Merit Raises [Tampa Bay Times] "The House and the Senate aligned their position on teacher pay raises Sunday, putting the Florida Legislature on a collision course with Gov. Rick Scott. The chambers agreed to spend $480 million on salary increases for educators — the same figure Scott has in his budget. The key difference: the Senate and the House are insisting on performance-based raises, while Scott is championing $2,500 across-the-board increases for every classroom teacher. The governor is holding firm on his proposal, one of his top priorities for this year's legislative session, which ends in early May. House and Senate leaders said they didn't see Scott's plan becoming reality."

 

Gov. Scott Won’t Get $2,500 Raises for Teachers [Tampa Tribune] "Gov. Rick Scott had maintained for weeks that legislators would “do the right thing” and agree to give every classroom teacher a $2,500 pay raise this year. State legislative leaders had been just as insistent, saying it was unlikely they would go along with Scott's proposal the way he wanted...Scott had made the across-the-board teacher pay raise one of his top priorities for the 2013 session. But legislators had signaled their reluctance with the proposal from the start. They maintained that it went against the idea of rewarding teachers based on student performance - a key element of the merit pay law passed in 2011 and is scheduled to take effect in 2014."

 

 TAMPA BAY TIMES: SCOTT NEEDS TO SHOW LEADERSHIP, 'DEMONSTRATE HE CAN GOVERN'

Time for Scott to Get to Work on Legislature [Tampa Bay Times Editorial] "Gov. Rick Scott has two weeks to demonstrate he can govern as well as he can issue press releases. It's great that the governor supports expanding Medicaid and accepting billions of federal dollars to provide health coverage to nearly a million residents. Now he has to persuade fellow conservative Republicans in the Legislature to agree or embrace a reasonable alternative...It seems Scott wants to have it both ways. He publicly expresses support for Medicaid expansion while passively watching House Speaker Will Weatherford and his allies kill any viable proposal. The governor has had no meaningful talks with the House leadership on this issue, and he is only in slightly better contact with Senate Republicans. That won't get the job done, and it is time to become fully engaged rather than appealing to moderate voters while winking to conservative lawmakers in Tallahassee."

  

SUN SENTINEL: SCOTT 'GAVE THE STATE MORE MEANINGFUL INFORMATION WHEN HE WASN'T TALKING TO THE PRESS AT ALL

OK Gov., We Know, We Know: Jobs and Education [Sun Sentinel Editorial] "If I were an advisor to Gov. Rick Scott, which I am not, I would give him a bit of advice, which he surely doesn't want. Gov, I would say, you probably know your popularity ratings are low. We're talking subterranean...To help things along, I would say, it is time for the governor to actually take a stance on something...Scott came in to talk to the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board for an hour the other day and, to be honest, I'm not sure he said much more than he did back in the days when he wasn't talking to editorial boards at all...No matter what the question, what the issue, he comes back to 'I'm focused on education and bringing jobs.' For variety, once in awhile, he would say 'I'm focused on families and bringing jobs.'...I think the man gave the state more meaningful information when he wasn't talking to the press at all. I think residents of the state should want to know a little more about how the governor really feels about things, but hey, maybe that's just my opinion."

 

BILL NELSON FIGHTING BIG OIL TO PROTECT FL'S ENVIRONMENT 

Fla. Lawmakers Discuss Oil Spill on Anniversary [AP] "Florida lawmakers came together Friday to say their battle continues to protect the Gulf of Mexico three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., announced that he is co-sponsoring legislation that would lift the liability from $75 million for removal costs for an offshore oil spill. He said the current law limits the ability to collect damages in excess of $75 million, unless there is gross negligence or willful misconduct...After three years of research, Nelson said 'we still don't know what else is out there and haven't determined how long it will have an effect on the gulf.' 'The fight is just beginning,' he said. 'The oil companies can run but they can't hide.'"

Nelson Calls for Lifting Liability Cap on Oil Spills [Tampa Bay Times] "Florida Sen. Bill Nelson announced Friday that he's trying again to pass a bill that would lift the current cap on liability for future oil spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Nelson, D-Fla, joined U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, as well as a pair of marine scientists and a handful of environmental activists in a new conference at a waterfront park Friday to commemorate the third anniversary of the BP oil spill on Saturday and to call for a change in the liability law. 'We see in a spill like the BP spill the limits of liability quickly deplete our people's ability to find recompense,' Nelson said."

 

RUBIO DRAWING HEAT FOR 'NAUSEATING' VOTE ON BACKGROUND CHECKS

Carl Hiaasen: Rubio Comes Up Short on Gun Control [Miami Herald Editorial] "Marco Rubio showed his true yellow colors last week, joining 45 other cowards to defeat Senate legislation designed to stop criminals from buying firearms online and at gun shows.The vote was nauseating. So is Rubio. A few days earlier, he’d admitted to Fox News that he hadn’t read the complete bill that would expand federal background checks of gun buyers, but he was opposing it anyway. Other pertinent materials that Rubio obviously didn’t read included a recent New York Times sampling of nut jobs, convicted criminals and even one fugitive who purchased assault rifles and other weapons over the Internet. On NBC, Rubio repeated the NRA lie that background checks don’t work."

Dozens Rally to 'Shame' Rubio for Vote Against Background Check Expansion for Gun Purchases [Naples Daily News] "Rubio voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment that would have expanded background checks to include private sales at gun shows and sales over the Internet. The amendment failed in the Senate on Wednesday, with a 54-46 vote. It needed 60 votes to move ahead...One protester carried a sign thanking U.S. Rep. Bill Nelson, a fifth-generation Floridian, for his yes vote."

  

US HOUSE DEMS CALL ON WEATHERFORD TO CREATE JOBS, SAVE MONEY, AND SAVE LIVES THROUGH MEDICAID EXPANSION

U.S. House Dems Send Weatherford Letter re Medicaid [Tampa Tirbune] "The eight Democratic members of Florida’s U.S. House delegation have sent a letter to state House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, urging him to accept federal Medicaid expansion. The letter repeats the arguments made by Democrats against plans by Republicans in the Legislature, who say they believe the federal government won’t actually pay for the expansion as the Affordable Care Act provides, and the state will have to fund it. The state Senate appears headed toward approving a modified Medicaid expansion plan, using the federal money to help poor people buy private health insurance, but Weatherford stands against accepting any federal money for expansion. The letter says the expansion of Medicaid would create jobs and save Florida taxpayers money, in addition to providing health coverage for working poor families just above the poverty line."