Thursday, January 07, 2016

Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

"Scott claims victory over Bush"

"Gov. Rick Scott and public education advocates claimed victory Wednesday after a months-long battle over how high to set performance benchmarks for Florida’s students and schools, while allies of former Gov. Jeb Bush and business lobbyists finished on the losing side."

The proxy war between the two Republicans climaxed Wednesday when a national foundation founded by Bush challenged the Scott administration’s plan for overhauling the state’s school grading system, which was pioneered by the former two-term governor in 1999.
"During a day-long meeting at the Capitol, the state Board of Education approved education Commissioner Pam Stewart's proposals for setting passing scores on new state exams and changing how school grades are calculated."
Stewart's plans will result in a slight majority of students in most grades passing the English and math tests, which critics, including Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education and business groups, argued was a misleading representation of students' readiness for college and careers. Her plan for a revamped school grades formula will produce a nearly identical distribution across the A-to-F scale for 2014-15 as the previous year, which the same critics argued was a result manufactured to mask a dip in performance associated with more rigorous academic standards and tests.
"Scott claims victory over Bush allies on test scores, school grades."

"The state Board of Education approved a new benchmark for school grades and students’ test scores today despite concerns it may be too easy on them." "New standards set for grades given Florida schools, students."

More: "State board adopts FSA passing scores, new school grades formula" and "Nearly Half of Florida's 10th Graders to Fail Part of FSA Under New Cut Score Formula."

BFFs? Not so much

"When they both ran for state Senate the first time in 2012, Pasco County’s John Legg and Wilton Simpson almost faced off in what could have been a bitter Republican primary — until Legg changed his mind at the last minute and ran in a neighboring district instead. . . . Four years later, it looks as though the two friends and Senate chamber neighbors are finally going head to head." "Friends Legg, Simpson will face off in same new Senate district."


"Gov. Rick Scott issued a non-endorsement endorsement of Donald Trump by penning a Wednesday op-ed in USA Today in which he lauded the GOP presidential frontrunner for bucking the Republican 'establishment.'" "Rick Scott gushes over Donald Trump in op-ed."

See "Donald Trump has America's pulse: Rick Scott."

"He’s no lame duck"

Kevin Derby: "Rick Scott’s starting the new year by offering some reminders that, even while he can’t run for a third term, he’s no lame duck in Tallahassee." "Rick Scott Starts 2016 Back on Florida's Center Stage."

No pressure?

"After more than a decade as Florida’s chief insurance regulator, Kevin McCarty resigned Tuesday, nearly a year after he overcame a failed effort by Gov. Rick Scott to get rid of him." "Florida chief insurance regulator Kevin McCarty resigns."

"Rubio Is No Moderate"

"Rubio is the embodiment of the Republican donor class’s conviction that it needs to alter nothing more than its face." "Right-Wing Rubio: Marco Is No Moderate."

"What's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State"

Marc Caputo: "Rick Scott’s relevancy roar – Marco’s ‘booties’ and Jeb’s pocket turtles (really) – Rep. Brown’s BBQ joint subpoena – Wasserman Schultz: ‘drug culture’ isn’t in ‘suburbia’ (huh?)– Last Indian gator wrestler calls it quits." "Florida Playbook."

Former Jeb, Rubio Staffer Runs for Congress

"While former U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., had been running for this seat, she suspended her campaign due to health reasons. Besides Patty, other Republican candidates include attorney Malcom Anthony, former New Smyrna Beach Mayor Adam Barringer and businessman G.G. Galloway. State Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, businessman Bill McCullough and attorney George Pappas are running on the Democratic side." "Former Jeb, Rubio Staffer Brandon Patty Runs for Congress."

"Republicans should accept redistricting defeat"

The Tampa Trib editors: "The Republicans in charge should focus on winning fair and square, and spare the taxpayers and voters the cost and turmoil of more appeals." "Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals."

Contribution to Jeb! "marks milestone in unprecedented flow of money"

"Maurice R. 'Hank' Greenberg, who built American International Group Inc. into a world-wide financial powerhouse before its controversial government bailout, has donated $10 million to the super PAC backing Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, making him one of the largest contributors in the 2016 race." "Hank Greenberg Gives $10 Million to Super PAC Backing Jeb Bush."

"Crowded state Senate race"

"A newly drawn state Senate district in Orange County is attracting the interest of another local Democrat. Linda Stewart, a former Democratic House member, announced her candidacy for the District 13 seat on Wednesday." "Linda Stewart, former House Democrat, jumps into crowded state Senate race." See also "Clelland launches bid for state Senate."

Election Year Budget

"An election-year budget that includes huge tax cuts, record funding for public schools and a new initiative to bring jobs to Florida might be good politics for lawmakers. The question is whether they can afford it."

"Scott's Budget Plans Could Face Squeeze."