Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott stopped by the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Monday extolling his proposal for $1.7 billion in environmental funding next year — a more than $200 million boost from the current year.

But some critics are questioning the governor’s motive for the funding increase. Environmental groups who’ve traditionally been at odds with Scott are tepidly supportive of the governor’s proposal.

Al Gore Criticizes Rick Scott at Climate-Change Summit

Sep 29, 2015

Al Gore reserved most of his criticisms for the state Legislature and Florida’s power companies, who are fighting a proposed Florida constitutional amendment calling for more solar power. After a group aligned with the solar industry called Floridians for Solar Choice proposed the amendment, a power company-funded group called Consumers for Smart Solar began efforts to place a rival initiative on the ballot. "The coal burning electric utilities use their legacy political connections and power and wealth and lobbying and campaign contributions in order to absolutely control the state legislature and the governor's office so that the people of Florida are denied the laws and regulations and opportunities to take advantage of buying electricity for a cheaper price by turning away from the monopoly," Gore said. “The coal burning monopolies are trying to fool you.”

WUSF/Mark Schreiner

Gov. Rick Scott gave his State of the State address Tuesday and talked about issues that affect Floridians, like jobs and education.

Scott did not address medical marijuana, Medicare and Medicaid, reform of the state prison system or some other hot topics up for discussion in this year’s Legislative session.

After the address, WUSF's Carson Cooper talked with USF political science professor  John Bertalan about what the governor did - and didn't - address. 

Public polling shows that Rubio does 13 percentage points better with women than Scott when voters are asked if they disapprove of the job the two are doing. While 39 percent of women disapproved of the job Rubio is doing (actually 7 points better than President Barack Obama), Scott has 52 percent of women disapproving of the job he is doing.

StevenM_61 / Flickr

The 2014 Florida legislative session reached the halfway point last week, so we thought we'd check in on some of the big education bills.

The Budget

The House, Senate and Gov. Rick Scott mostly agree on education spending based on their proposed budgets.

Gov. Scott Blasts Federal Budget Deal

Oct 18, 2013

Gov. Scott's statement on the agreement inked this week in Washington, D.C., puts him firmly in line with a group of tea party-aligned congressional Republicans, mostly in the House, who refused to support the final budget deal because it did not include larger spending cuts.

Starting Oct. 1, it will be against the law to drive and text in the state of Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reports. But some lawmakers are worried drivers won’t realize the ban has kicked in, since Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $1 million in funding for a public safety campaign to promote the law. Florida law-enforcement officials say they’re not going to have a warning period to let drivers get used to the new law, as some states have; on the other hand, those worried about texting and driving say Florida’s law is a lot weaker than most states’ because it isn’t a pull-over offense; drivers can be cited for it only if they were pulled over for something else.

After saying it wouldn’t pay for round-the-clock nurses for the girl who was severely brain damaged last year after nearly drowning in the Erie Canal, Florida Blue now says it will, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The family of Selah Clanton, 9, received a call from Gov. Rick Scott about the insurer’s reversal, which came after former state Rep. Mike Fasano asked lawmakers to intervene on the girl’s behalf. Her father is a state employee who works as a chaplain at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. Florida state government is a self-insured plan, so coverage decisions are determined by state officials.

Just seven of 67 Florida school districts have signed up for Gov. Rick Scott's program to give teachers $250 debit cards to pay for classroom supplies. Many districts said they could get teachers the money quicker by distributing it through paychecks.

As Gov. Rick Scott surveys hundreds of grants for parks, trails, museums, aquariums, water projects and youth programs, Scott faces a stark choice. He can shore up his support among fiscal conservatives by slashing discretionary spending, or bless those projects and curry favor with legislators as he launches a difficult 2014 re-election campaign. “It’s Floridians’ money. They expect it to be spent wisely,” Scott said Friday after the Legislature adjourned its 2013 session. “So I’ll be going line by line and making sure we don’t waste any dollars.”

State budget negotiations are still under way, but legislators flush with the first budget surplus in seven years have already set aside money for everything from a statewide multiuse trail to lighthouse renovations and ballet academies. Gov. Scott said he expected legislators to come to him and justify why state taxpayers should spend money on these hometown projects. “I’m responsible for all 19.2 million Floridians, and I want to make sure we get a good return on investment,” Scott said shortly after a bill signing Thursday. Scott’s tone may only worsen relations between him and lawmakers.

Florida could gain a badly-needed economic boost and thousands of new jobs each year if state officials accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, three new studies say. One study calculates the payoff at 16-to-1.

The studies -- two by university researchers, one by a hospital association -- all took a decade-long view of the fiscal impact of enlarging Florida's health program for the poor. All found a significant net gain.

"The state can actually both save money and serve an additional million Floridians -- both adults and children -- by making the choice to extend their Medicaid program," said Joan Alker of Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute,  co-author of one of the studies.