Florida Five: GOP governors slam Obama in Boca, Jeb Bush’s Common Core backlash

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

Gov. Scott’s low-key second inaugural: no black tie ball, just barbecues – Gov. Rick Scott’s second inaugural celebration will be much more low-key than his first one and a lot less expensive, too. The black-tie ball is gone, replaced by no-frills barbecues around the state. The inaugural parade is history, replaced by a tribute to military veterans. Scott appears determined to set a serious, no-nonsense tone at the start of his second term, without the over-the-top trappings of his first one four years ago. The Republican governor whose re-election slogan was “Let’s Keep Working” said Wednesday that he will hold a “Jobs Jamboree” tour in six cities in December, including Tampa and Miami, where businesses will hold informal evening barbecues that will be free and open to the public. Read more

RepublicanGovernors Association
Photo credit: Change Maryland Facebook page

GOP governors attack Obama’s immigration order – The Associated Press BOCA RATON, Fla. — The nation’s Republican governors on Wednesday lashed out at President Barack Obama’s plans to unilaterally protect millions of immigrants from deportation, but clashed over whether their congressional colleagues should threaten a government shutdown in response. The issue dominated the first full day of the Republican Governors Association annual meeting, where a half-dozen potential presidential candidates addressed an issue that could weigh heavily in the GOP’s wide-open presidential primary. One of the likely candidates, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, threatened to file a lawsuit to block Obama’s executive order, which the president was expected to announce Thursday night. Perry likened the president’s move to sticking “a finger in the eye of the American people” and described a lawsuit as “a very real possibility.” Read more

Florida pension reform looms large – With a larger Republican majority, legislative leaders are expected to try again in the 2015 session to revamp the Florida retirement system. House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said Wednesday he has an interest in picking up former Speaker Will Weatherford’s effort to shift newly hired public workers into an investment-type retirement plan rather than the traditional pension fund. As of 2013, some 621,000 public employees in Florida, with the majority working for local school systems and county governments, were in the retirement system. Some 514,000 workers were in the traditional pension plan, with some 107,000 in the 401(k)-type plan. Read more

Jeb Bush faces backlash over education record – Jeb Bush made his mark as Florida’s governor by overhauling the state’s schools. As he ponders a potential run for president, his education policies – a likely cornerstone of a White House campaign – are drawing fire from critics who argue they place too much emphasis on testing. While the landmark education programs retain the strong support of Florida’s GOP-led legislature, many superintendents and school boards here are calling on the state to suspend its school grading system, the centerpiece of Bush’s overhaul. The state teachers union, among others, also wants to overturn a private school voucher program that lawmakers voted this year to expand. Bush has also been one of the country’s most vocal supporters of academic standards known as Common Core, which have been adopted by a majority of states. That puts him at odds with the conservative activists any GOP presidential hopeful would need to win the party’s nomination. Bush’s education foundation gives him a platform from which to defend his education policies. He’s speaking at a foundation event Thursday in Washington. Read more

Florida legislative bill would toughen texting while driving ban – Florida lawmakers are looking to turn the heat up on people texting behind the wheel. A bill has been filed in the Florida Legislature to give police officers more power to pull drivers over who are texting. The bill would make texting while driving a primary offense in Florida, which means an officer can pull someone over they see texting behind the wheel. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense. Police can only cite someone for texting when they are pulled over for another reason. The bill also calls for fines to be doubled for drivers caught texting in school zones. Read more

Bonus: Chris Christie brings his N.J. inner circle to Florida with presidential politics bubbling – What an entourage!

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page

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