Gov. Scott Calls for More Education Funding

Polls may show Rick Scott is America's most unpopular governor, but you wouldn't know it Tuesday.

Scott opened his second state of the state with what he calls a telling number. Over the past year, Florida's attracted almost 135,000 new jobs.

"My friends, the state of our state will continue to improve."

All the more so if lawmakers embrace Scott's agenda. It's built around a billion dollar boost to education funding and an implied threat anything less could be met with the governor's veto pen.

"On this point, I just can't budge," the governor said. "I ask you again to send me a budget that significantly increases state funding for education."

That could be quite the challenge, given what could be a $2 billion budget deficit. Publicly, high-ranking Republican Senator Don Gaetz is prepared to do what he can.

"I can't find a single republican or a single democrat who does not want to strengthen our public education system, so I don't view it as an ultimatum," the Niceville senator said. "I view it as a commitment that we all share. The devil will be in the details."

Details Scott ticked off, like a nearly $2 billion cut to Medicaid funding and a call that took many by surprise.

"I'm also asking you to require job training for those who are receiving unemployment checks."

Democrats call that a way of making it even more difficult for laid-off Floridians to get the help they need.

"We already cut back on the number of weeks that one can receive unemployment compensation and we also cut back on the amount, so it's preposterous that he would ask to further lower it!" said Senator Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

But for the governor, a former donut shop owner, the math is pretty simple.

"Every donut I sold gave me more capital to hire more people."

The tough part ... the politics.

"That's what his speech was - it was full of holes, like donut holes!" said Rep. Dwayne Taylor.

Politically, Scott's betting lawmakers won't let themselves be defined as anti-education. That could well happen if they don't come through with that one billion more for Florida schools.

Lawmakers wasted no time getting down to business. The Senate passed bills to compensate a man wrongfully imprisoned, as well as a man disabled after being hit by a police cruiser.


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