Florida Five: Dems fear Grayson spoiler, Fla. legislature passes budget in overtime

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

Grayson and Rubio
Photo credit: Latino.FoxNews.com

Democrats fear Rep. Grayson could spoil chances in race for Rubio’s Florida Senate seat – Democrats see a chance to pick up the Florida Senate seat being vacated by Republican Marco Rubio — but only if U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson stays out of the race. Democratic leaders fear Grayson could spoil the party’s chances for capturing the seat by challenging Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy in the primary. Rubio is running for president instead of seeking a second term. Read more

Florida Legislature passes $78.7 billion budget in overtime – After a sprawling and messy budget fight that spawned lawsuits and finger-pointing, the fractured Republican-controlled Florida Legislature approved a nearly $79 billion budget and ended its special session Friday. Legislators were racing against the clock to pass the budget after they failed to pass one during their regular two-month session that ended in late April. The final vote was 37-0 in the Senate and 96-17 in the House. It followed two days of debate in which some legislators expressed frustration at the drawn-out budget battle caused by a stalemate over health care. Read more

Related: What passed, what failed in Florida’s 2015 legislative session

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera plans July 15 Senate race announcement — Carlos Lopez-Cantera left little room for doubt Saturday night that he’s running for U.S. Senate in 2016. Florida’s lieutenant governor told Miami-Dade County Republicans at their annual fundraising bash that he will announce his plans July 15. “I believe Florida deserves a candidate who will work for Florida every single day and campaign for every Florida voter, no matter where they live, how they worship or what language they speak around the dinner table,” Lopez-Cantera said. Read more

Health care battle likely to return in 2016 – A bruising budget battle that divided Republicans in the Florida Legislature is over for now, but the truce is likely only to last a few months. Legislators passed a nearly $79 billion budget Friday with just days to spare. Legislators had until July 1 to pass a budget or state government would have been partially shut down. They didn’t pass a budget during their regular session because they were divided over health care spending. That sparked a stalemate – and finger-pointing will remain when legislators return for their 2016 session. Read more

Florida’s new school standards both “successful” and “disaster” – Florida just completed the first year of one of the biggest experiments in U.S. education. For the first time this year, every grade in every public school used new math and language arts standards that outline what students should know each year. The goal to have is high school graduates who are ready for college-level classes or the full-time work force. School district and state leaders generally support the switch. Read more

A little good news: Florida man finds, returns buried treasures

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