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, from Medicaid to the future of the state. Legislators like Representative Alan Williams, a Democrat from 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, that’s obviously an area that we need to work on and we’ll continue to work on,” Williams said.
Other legislators, like Senate Majority Lizbeth Benacquisto from Ft. Meyers, says the $2,500 teacher pay raise is a wonderful gesture. As a public school mom, said Benacquisto, she thinks teacher are phenomenal, her only concern she has is how to pay for it.
“But 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.
Senate Protempore Garrett Richter, a Republican from Naples, says he isn’t worried about the Governor’s and the House’s disagreement over the expansion of Medicaid, in fact he called it one of the bright spots of a republican democracy.
“We’ve got a House, we’ve got a Senate, and we’ve got a Governor’s branch, and it takes three ‘yesses’ to get to yes, and it only takes one ‘no’ to get to no,” Richter said.
Even some political heavyweights had the opportunity to share their thoughts, including former U.S. Senator and former Florida Governor Bob Graham. He said Florida’s political landscape is going through some big changes.
“One of the reasons that it’s in flux is that “who are Floridians” is changing, with particularly more minorities and that those minorities are becoming more politically energized,” Graham said.