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Lawmakers Voice Mixed Reactions to Scott's State of the State

March 06, 2013 | WMFE - Lawmakers and other Florida leaders had lots to say following Governor Rick Scott's State of the State address Tuesday. While there were only two "official" responses to Governor Scott's State of the State Address, there was no shortage of opinion, discussion or reaction on the House floor on a variety of issues from Medicaid to the future of the state.

Democratic Representative Alan Williams of Tallahassee says while he agrees with the Governor’s teacher pay raise, he wanted to hear about some other people’s pay raises.

“I was disappointed that I didn’t hear anything about state worker pay raises in the Governor’s speech.” Williams said. “That’s obviously  an area that we need to work on and we’ll continue to work on.”

But Republican Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto from Ft. Myers says the $2500 teacher pay raise is a wonderful gesture. 

As a public school mom, Benacquisto says she thinks teachers are phenomenal. Her only concern she has is how to pay for the across-the-board pay hike.

“We have to make sure that we can make it work within the budget constraints and reward those teachers that have done the best for our students.” Benacquisto said.

Republican Garrett Richter of Naples is the State Senate President Pro Tempore, the Senate President’s top lieutenant. He says he isn’t worried about the disagreement between the governor and the House over the expansion of Medicaid.

In fact Richter says it’s one of the hallmarks of an effective democracy.

“We’ve got a House, we’ve got a Senate, and we’ve got a governor’s branch. It takes three ‘yesses’ to get to yes and it only takes one ‘no’ to get to no.” Richter said.

Even some other political heavyweights had the opportunity to share their thoughts, including former U.S. Senator and former Florida Governor Bob Graham. He says Florida’s political landscape is going through some big changes.  

“One of the reasons that it’s in flux is that Florida is changing with particularly more minorities and those minorities are becoming more politically energized.” Graham said.



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