Sunshine State News Blogs

As primary voting began to wrap up Tuesday afternoon, Florida's chief financial officer focused his efforts on ripping the likely Democratic nominee to face Gov. Rick Scott in the general election.

CFO Jeff Atwater ripped into former Gov. Charlie Crist for "walking away" from thousands of needy Floridians during his time in office, leaving behind his responsibilities as governor for higher political ambitions. 

"Charlie Crist walked away in our toughest hour and didn't give a care in the world about suffering Floridians because he thought it was in the best interest of his political future to avoid the hard times and hard decisions," said Atwater in a statement. "Now that Floridians have picked themselves up and made their own tough choices, guess who is back and hoping they forgot about his great political escape at their expense?"

Atwater had a message for Crist: The people of Florida, he said, would not be too quick to forget Crist's abandonment of the Sunshine State.

"You proved to all of us that the only decisions you are willing to make are the ones that are best for your own political future," Atwater continued. "This time we know better, Charlie."  
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Despite his leading role with the “Gang of Eight” on immigration reform, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned President Barack Obama that any efforts he makes on immigration reform should be done with the approval of Congress. Rubio wrote Obama on the matter on Tuesday.

“It is my sincere belief that if we can bring illegal immigration under control and modernize our legal immigration system, then the American people and a majority of their representatives in Congress would be willing to reasonably and responsibly address the issue of millions of people currently in this nation illegally,” Rubio wrote. “It will not be easy. And it will not be unanimous. But if we can make real progress on stemming the tide of illegal immigration, I am convinced we will have the support necessary to address this serious issue once and for all. All of this is why I have grown increasingly alarmed by news that your administration is considering sweeping executive action to give work permits to millions of people here illegally. If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future.

“I know you are receiving tremendous political pressure from certain activists to grant another unilateral, temporary and uncertain legal status to millions of additional undocumented immigrants,” Rubio continued. “But to do so, without first taking any serious steps to address the border or protect American workers, will increase the perception of ambiguity in our laws, incentivize more people to immigrate here illegally, and significantly set back the prospects of real reform.

“As someone who believes sincerely in the need for reform, is the son of immigrants, and lives in a community of immigrants, I still reserve some optimism that you’ll reject the politics of the moment and remember that the decisions you make will impact the people at the heart of this issue long after your duty to serve them has come to an end,” Rubio wrote.
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The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) launched a new ad on Tuesday hitting Democrat Gwen Graham on President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. Graham represents Democrats’ best chance to flip a congressional seat in Florida as she runs against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla.

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“Gwen Graham has made it clear that she wants to keep Obamacare even though it’s causing North Florida families to pay more for health care coverage and caused some families to lose the coverage and doctor they liked,” said Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Tuesday. “Sending Gwen Graham to Congress is a risk North Florida families can’t afford.”
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U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., cheered Monday’s news that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will send $6.3 million in disaster assistance to Apalachicola Bay’s oyster fishing industry which has dropped 60 percent in the last two years.

“I am thrilled that these relief funds are now on their way to helping the hard-working people who rely on Apalachicola Bay,” said Southerland. “While these resources represent an important victory, more must be done to save this cherished community. I look forward to building off today’s news and continuing our fight to restore Apalachicola’s oyster industry.”

The funds will be released later this week, with $2.8 million going for shelling by oystermen and $1.75 million for shelling by barge. The state Fish and Wildlife Service will get $415,000 to monitor the bay while $770,000 will go toward updating facilities and $540,000 for education and training.
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From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with three of his colleagues -- U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and U.S. Sen. James E. Risch, R-Idaho -- in sending a letter to five Latin American leaders, asking them to restore full diplomatic ties with Israel by returning their ambassadors to that nation. The senators wrote the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru, all of whom recalled their ambassadors from Israel in protest of that nation’s recent actions in Gaza.

“All loss of innocent lives during this conflict is tragic, but your government’s decision to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel at this critical time will only embolden Hamas leaders to continue on the current course of indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli civilians rather than working with the Israeli government to achieve a sustainable cease-fire arrangement,” the senators wrote on Monday. “Your actions send a troubling message to the United States about your government’s commitment to long-lasting peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“We encourage you to return your ambassador to Israel, as a symbol of your country’s steadfast commitment to achieving an enduring peace in the Middle East and the fight against the scourge of international terrorism,” the senators wrote.

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The school board of Palm Beach County is joining with Lee County to explore their options to opt out of high-stakes standardized testing. 

At a meeting last week, board members discussed standardized testing and expressed a desire to investigate opting out of standardized testing -- and what the consequences would be of such a move. Board members said stakes were too high for students -- and while they didn't disagree with standardized testing in its entirety, they disagreed with its ultimate goals and results.

“Make no mistake, I believe in assessment. I believe in testing that is used for measurement not punishment," said board member Karen Brill. "I believe that we, as a district, need to research opting out from the new Florida Standard Assessments but we must also restore common sense and balance to our own testing schedule."

"I'm particularly concerned about the fact that the state has decided they're going to hold schools harmless, but they're still going to punish our kids and our teachers. I mean, I just don't get that," said Vice Chairman Frank Barbieri. "They're going to make sure that schools don't suffer consequences if their grades go backward, but we're still going to have third-graders that are not going to pass and go onto fourth-grade. It's too much too soon." 

The move follows a similar meeting held by the Lee County School Board, where members had also said they'd be interested in getting out of standardized tests. Testing in Florida has fallen under intense scrutiny in recent months with the debut of a new set of education standards as well as a new standardized test. 

"The accountability system that the state is rolling out is flawed," said board member Marcia Andrews on the issue. "We'll be right here to take the stand with our parents, with our school district, with other districts across the state and certainly with our legislators."

The Lee County School Board will be discussing the issue later this week. 
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, is getting increasingly active in South Carolina which traditionally holds the first presidential primary in the South.

Held after Iowa and New Hampshire have their say, South Carolina has been the decisive tie-breaker in many recent Republican presidential primary contests. Set up by Lee Atwater to help George H.W. Bush, the eventual Republican presidential nominee won the South Carolina primary in 1988, 1996, 2000 and 2008 after Iowa and New Hampshire broke for different candidates. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., ended the streak in 2008 when he defeated former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., in the Palmetto State.

Rubio will be in Anderson on Monday as the keynote speaker for U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan’s, R-S.C., “Faith and Freedom” BBQ.

“I’m honored to have a solid conservative like Sen. Rubio come to South Carolina to headline this event,” said Duncan when he announced the event back in July. “Sen. Rubio shares South Carolina’s values of limited government and individual liberty, and I’m looking forward to having him visit our state.”
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U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., hammered the Obama administration’s handling of Cuban affairs on Friday after reports emerged that three Cubans with close ties to the Castro regime -- Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, Josefina Vidal  and Antonio Castro, the son of Fidel Castro -- had been granted visas to enter the United States.

"It is outrageous that the Obama administration once again has granted U.S. entry visas to high-level Cuban operatives Mariela Castro, Josefina Vidal, and Antonio Castro,” Diaz-Balart said on Friday. “The same regime that brutally oppresses activists, violates international sanctions to provide weapons to North Korea, and continues to imprison U.S. humanitarian worker Alan Gross should not be rewarded with U.S. visits.

“I strongly urge the administration to abandon its misguided decision to engage with the Cuban people's oppressors,” Diaz-Balart added. “Instead, it should redouble efforts to support civil society, democracy, and Cuba's true leaders who are courageously striving against the dictatorship to achieve liberty and basic human rights for the Cuban people.”
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Gov. Rick Scott focused on education on Monday, showcasing his calls to raise K-12 funding, looking at standards and assessment and trying to keep higher education affordable.

“Everyone in Florida deserves to live the American dream – and that starts with a great education,” Scott said. “We want to make sure that our students have every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in their careers, and we want to make sure our teachers have every tool they need to make that possible.”

Scott also kept his fire on former Gov. Charlie Crist. Despite having spent most of his political career as a Republican, Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic primary on Tuesday to challenge Scott in November.

“By continuing to invest in our K-12 schools with record per-pupil funding, and keeping college affordable for Florida students, we’ll undo the damage done by Charlie Crist when he cut funding and slammed students by allowing tuition hikes year after year,” Scott said.

Scott pointed toward his call for a “record $18.9 billion in funding for public schools – including per-pupil funding of $7,176, the highest in state history” for K-12. The governor also proposed creating a review committee to look at curriculum as he tries to use his Florida Standards instead of Common Core. Scott also called for the education commissioner to "conduct a thorough investigation of all standardized tests.” The governor also supported higher pay for excellent teachers and spending more on digital education and school safety.

In terms of colleges, Scott highlighted his call for more STEM training, informing students upfront about the costs of higher education and renewed his push for state colleges to offer degrees at or less than $10,000.
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Locked in a competitive Republican primary on Tuesday against attorney and GOP leader Paul Renner to replace retiring state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, in the Florida House, banker Jay Fant announced the endorsements of two state representatives over the weekend: Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, and Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights.

“Jay believes in protecting our Second Amendment rights and he is a fiscal conservative who is focused on shrinking the government beast,” said Beshears. “Yet, most importantly, Jay is a grounded Christian family man who doesn’t need poll numbers or the media to tell him right from wrong.”

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NextGen Climate has revitalized its campaign to defeat Gov. Rick Scott in November's election, unleashing a new ad attacking the governor for taking $200,000 from a Collier family, owners of a company that leased land for oil exploration near the Florida Everglades.

The ad accuses the Collier family of profiting on the oil drilling and then asks Scott to return the cash.

NextGen, a super-PAC backed by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer, also followed another familiar line of attack in the ad, called "Again," bringing up Scott's pleading of the Fifth Amendment 75 times in a 1995 deposition. 

The environment has become a central issue in the gubernatorial race in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Scott launched his "Let's Keep Florida Beautiful" tour, pledging to funnel $1 billion in spending on Florida’s waters, with $500 million for alternative water supply and $500 million for springs restoration. Scott also met with climate scientists this week to discuss Florida's plan on climate change.

The ad will be running in the West Palm Beach and Fort Myers markets.  

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Despite the primary looming on Tuesday, a new poll shows Democrats remain largely undecided on who they want to challenge Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in November.

A poll from St. Pete Polls taken for Saint Petersblog finds 43.4 percent of voters remain undecided while 38.2 percent back former DCF Secretary George Sheldon and 18.4 percent support Florida House Minority Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale. One good sign for Sheldon is he is beating Thurston by 25.6 percent among Democrats who have already voted.

The poll of 1,825 Democrats who already voted or are planning to was taken on Aug. 21 and had  a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.
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A new poll shows former Gov. Charlie Crist has a commanding lead over former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to see who challenges Gov. Rick Scott in November.

St. Pete Polls took a poll for Saint Petersblog which shows Crist with 68.5 percent and Rich with 18.9 percent. Despite having been a Republican for most of his political career, Crist is in good shape with Democrats with 70.5 percent seeing him as favorable and 18.7 percent seeing him in an unfavorable light.

The poll of 1,825 Democrats who already voted or are planning to was taken on Aug. 21 and had  a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.
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With federal Judge Robert Hinkle striking down the state constitutional amendment on Thursday, recognizing only traditional marriage in Florida, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement on the decision. The amendment was added in 2008 after 62 percent of voters approved it at the ballot box.

The statement is as follows:

We are sadly disappointed by the court’s decision to reject marriage as the union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife. The decision fails to adequately consider that marriage unites a man and a woman with any children born from their union and protects a child’s right to both a mother and a father.

Our affirmation of marriage between a man and a woman is not motivated by unjust discrimination or animosity toward anyone. Human dignity is manifested in all persons; and all have the capacity for and are deserving of love. This is especially true of children, who should be given the opportunity, to the greatest extent possible, to be raised and loved by the mother and father who conceived them.

Only the union of a man and a woman in and of itself can bring forth children and thus is the very origin of society. With its unique beauty and goodness revealed, the public has a worthy interest in protecting this institution in law as a means to ensure humanity is both nurtured and strengthened.

The judge’s ruling negates marriage as identified in our state Constitution and approved by nearly 62 percent of the electorate in a 2008 ballot initiative. Despite this decision, we will continue to promote the truth of marriage, its foundational significance to society, and its importance to children. We are hopeful that ultimately the courts will recognize the true nature and meaning of marriage.
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A federal judge has joined with other statewide judges in ruling Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, in Tallahassee, ruled the 2008 voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment's guarantees of equal protection and due process. 

But despite the decision, Hinkle issued a stay delaying the effect of the order, which means gays will still have to wait for further court decisions before being issued marriage licenses. 

Hinkle said he believes the rationale to ban same-sex marriage will be seen as discriminatory further down the road. 

“When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination,” Hinkle wrote. “Observers who are not now of age will wonder just how those views could have been held.”

 
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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In the final days of the primary, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw,  R-Fla., announced on Thursday that two congressmen from neighboring districts endorsed him over Republican primary challenger former Navy Capt. Ryamn Shoaf. Even worse for Shoaf, one of those congressmen used to be his boss.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., endorsed Crenshaw on Thursday. Shoaf had served on Yoho’s congressional staff.

"I’ve spent the past 15 months investigating the IRS and Americans have demanded that Congress do something to hold the IRS accountable for its misconduct,” DeSantis said. “Ander Crenshaw has answered the people’s call. Using his subcommittee chairmanship on the Appropriations Committee, Ander authored a bill to rein in the IRS, protect taxpayers and safeguard the Constitution. This is a critical bill that attracted widespread conservative support. I am proud of every day I serve with and stand with Ander Crenshaw”

Yoho stressed that Crenshaw was a fellow conservative.
 
“Ander Crenshaw is a conservative with a capital C,” Yoho said. “Even more, he’s a proven conservative who gets results for his Northeast Florida neighbors. He doesn’t chase headlines – he simply does the job he’s been elected to do. No one works harder, and no one’s done more, to advance our responsible agenda for America. Ander’s one of us – he fights for us!”

"I'm proud to stand together with Congressmen DeSantis and Yoho in a continued mission to protect the conservative values that individuals, families, and businesses hold dear,” Crenshaw said. “Across the board, Northeast Florida is well-served by both of them, and I look forward to working with them in the years ahead."

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Facing a crowded Republican primary to see who will challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., in November, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo unleashed a new Web video on Thursday featuring one of his prominent supporters: former Gov. Jeb Bush.

"Carlos Curbelo represents a new generation of conservative leaders who are eager to serve their country and advance important reforms for our nation,” Bush says in the ad.

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U.S. Rep Steve Southerland, R-Fla., faces a tough challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, D-Fla., in November and he is going all out to tie her to President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.

In Panama City on Wednesday, Southerland announced the support of the Bays Medical Society and Florida Medical Association before turning his fire on Graham.

“I’m honored to have the support of the hard-working doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who help keep our communities healthy,” said Southerland. “Doctors take an oath to ‘first, do no harm,’ and they know better than anyone how harmful government-run health care has been for local families. Unfortunately, that message hasn’t gotten through to Gwen Graham, who continues to shift between supporting Obamacare and running from the question. When you’re more interested in currying favor with Nancy Pelosi than you are in listening to our doctors and patients, you’re writing North and Northwest Florida a prescription for disaster.”
 
“Steve is the only candidate in this race who opposes Obamacare,” said Dr. Jon Ward, the past president of the Bays Medical Society and currently on the board of governors for the Florida Medical Association. “Steve supports letting patients choose the health care plans and their physicians, and has fought for adequate Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals so our seniors can get the care they deserve. Gwen Graham, on the other hand, has stuck to the Nancy Pelosi playbook, dodging questions and refusing to fight government control of health care. As doctors, we know we can’t trust Gwen Graham to put the needs of our patients first, and that’s why we’re proud to endorse Steve Southerland for Congress.”
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Florida TaxWatch noted on Thursday that the Legislature will have almost $30 billion in general revenue for next year’s budget.

"Florida is now in the middle of its largest ever state budget, which is expected to grow even larger next year," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Florida is experiencing steady recovery and growth and our revenues have finally recovered from the recession."

Florida TaxWatch expected general revenue to grow between 4-5 percent over the next three years. Despite this, Kurt Wenner, the vp for tax research of Florida TaxWatch, said legislators had tough choices facing them when they convene in the spring.
 
"While state revenue continues to grow, the next budget may be a little tighter than expected," said Wenner. "If legislators want to keep the same level of reserves there are now, there will be only $43 million more GR available than was spent this year, which will likely result in increased competition to fund social programs, provide tax cuts, and increase investment in core government services, such as education and health care."

More can be read here.
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Gov. Rick Scott announced plans on Thursday to raise education spending to more than $19.6 billion, increasing per-pupil spending to $7,176, which is $232 per student more than last year.

The previous record high was $7,126 from 2007-08.

“I am proud to announce that in the upcoming legislative session we will propose an increase in Florida’s per-pupil spending to the highest level in our state’s history,” Scott said. “We already have the highest total spending in K-12 this year and gave every teacher the opportunity for a pay raise. Because we were able to get Florida’s economy back on track, revenues are now projected to stay at a strong enough rate to support historic investments in education.”

Scott insisted that Florida’s revived economy allowed him to increase education spending.

“Florida job growth, and the overall growth of Florida’s economy has made it possible for us to invest record amounts in education,” said Scott. “The credit for our historic investment in education goes to the hard-working people of Florida who make it all possible.”
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Looking to expand the GOP’s majority in the U.S. House, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) hoped to trip up two Florida Democrats by attacking them on ethics.

The NRCC launched a new website on Wednesday called “Drain the Swamp” which focuses on Democrats who have faced accusations regarding ethics. The name comes from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s, D-Calif., promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.

“Pelosi’s swamp is overflowing with unethical candidates,” said Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, on Wednesday. “Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are so desperate to regain complete liberal control of Washington, they are backing candidates who have more dirty laundry than the 'Real Housewives.'”

The new site hits Pelosi and 13 other Democrats in Congress including two members of the Florida delegation: U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Garcia is ranked as one of the top Republican targets in November.

“Rep. Joe Garcia continues to be an embarrassment for Florida families as two of his longtime staffers were forced to resign after allegations of absentee voter fraud,” the NRCC noted on the site. “That’s right, Joe Garcia’s ex-chief of staff and ex-communications director allegedly plotted to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee ballot requests for the 2012 primary.

“Rep. Alan Grayson abused his franked mailing privileges and used taxpayer money to distribute a self-promotional DVD to his constituents,” the NRCC insisted about the Central Florida congressman. “Now, taxpayers will have to pick up the $73,000 tab and be forced to watch Grayson vote in favor of Nancy Pelosi’s toxic liberal agenda. Additionally, Grayson released a fundraising email with a photo of a burning cross and claimed the tea party is ‘no more popular than the Klan.’”

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The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce launched a federal PAC -- the Jacksonville Chamber Committee for Good Government -- and endorsed two longtime representatives: Republican Ander Crenshaw and Democrat Corrine Brown.  

“As the Jacksonville Chamber gets more involved in policy issues – most notably the economic development project to deepen the St. Johns River to 47 feet – it made sense to be more involved at the federal level," said retiring state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, the president and CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber.

“It was critical to rally local business leaders and elected officials in the efforts to get the harbor deepening project approved, but we know it could not happen without our congressional delegation,” Davis added. “Congressman Crenshaw and Congresswoman Brown are excellent partners in Washington, fighting to improve our local economy, and we wanted to show our support for their hard work.”

Crenshaw faces a primary challenge from retired Navy Capt. Ryman Shoaf next week. Brown is a heavy favorite over whichever Republican emerges from the primary next week.
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U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, came out swinging at the Obama administration on Tuesday for giving three Cubans with close ties to the Castro regime -- Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, Josefina Vidal  and Antonio Castro, the son of Fidel Castro -- visas to enter the United States. Ros-Lehtinen wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on the matter.

“I’ve written to Secretary Kerry to express my opposition and concern over the State Department’s recent decision to grant these three high-ranking Castro regime officials entry to the United States,” Ros-Lehtinen said on Tuesday. “This is a misguided decision that gives the appearance of normalcy in relations with this murderous regime and sends the wrong message to the 11 million Cuban people suffering under its oppressive rule. It is an affront to the principles of freedom and democracy, and I would urge the administration to reverse its decision and instead push for greater reforms on the island.”
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From his seat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., denounced the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after reports emerged that members of that terrorist group beheaded journalist James Foley.

“The brutal execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIL is the latest example of the evil and barbarism of these terrorists. My thoughts and prayers are with the Foley family and with other Western hostages who at this hour are still being held,” Rubio said. “Just as al-Qaida’s initial killings of Americans abroad foretold the carnage they would unleash within our borders, this barbaric beheading of a defenseless hostage is the clearest indication to date that ISIL has declared war on the United States, on the American people, and on freedom-loving people everywhere.”

Rubio continued to hit ISIL for its actions and saying there is no point in bringing them to the negotiating table.  

“For more than a year, ISIL has been murdering civilians, raping women and young girls and enslaving them, and carrying out a systematic genocide of anyone who does not share their warped and extremist Islamist views,” Rubio said. “ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”

Rubio, whose name has generated some buzz as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of ISIL.

“I remain deeply concerned that despite the preponderance of evidence that proves ISIL is a fundamentally evil and dangerous terrorist threat to the United States, President Obama continues to appear unwilling to do what is necessary to confront ISIL and communicate clearly to the American people about the threat ISIL poses to our country and to our way of life,” Rubio said. “ISIL is not a problem for only Iraqis or Syrians to solve. A piecemeal approach will not eliminate the growing threat to the United States and our allies. If we do not do more to assist our Iraqi partners and those moderate Syrians who are fighting ISIL and directly target ISIL’s leadership and networks in Iraq and Syria, I fear that James Foley will not be the only American to die at their hands.”
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Teachers are losing faith in the Common Core State Standards, a set of educational standards being implemented nationwide. 

According to a poll released Wednesday from Education Next, 40 percent of teachers surveyed said they opposed the standards, a number which has more than tripled from the 12 percent who said they opposed Common Core in 2013. 

Just last year, Common Core enjoyed a majority support from teachers, with 76 percent behind it. That number has plummeted, however, with less than half -- 46 percent -- of teachers saying they now support the standards.

In 2013, teachers were much more on board with the standards and were generally more positive in their views of Common Core than the public (76 percent compared to 65 percent), but today teachers are less positive on the standards (46 percent compared to 53 percent).

Last year, only 12 percent of the teaching force expressed opposition to the standards -- virtually the same percentage as the public. Today, teacher opposition is nearly twice as high as opposition among the public, with 40 percent opposing compared to 26 percent of the public who say they oppose the standards.

The Education Next poll was based on feedback from more than 5,000 respondents in May and June and conducted by Knowledge Networks.

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Let’s Get to Work, a group with ties to Gov. Rick Scott, released a radio ad in Creole on Wednesday as they look to rally Haitian voters in South Florida. The ad focuses on Scott’s economic and education records.

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“Faced with numerous challenges upon entering office, Rick Scott made a promise to Florida voters to bring Florida’s economy back,” said Leslie Dougher, the chairwoman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), on Wednesday. “And in less than four years, Gov. Scott has kept that promise. Florida’s created over 600,000 new jobs, while Gov. Scott has cut taxes 40 times, increased education funding, and kept tuition low for Florida students. It’s clear that it’s working under Rick Scott, and we can’t afford to go back.”
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Dan Wahby, the director of government affairs for Lilly USA was named to the board of directors of GOPAC on Wednesday. Wahby is based out of Ponte Vedra on the First Coast. Also named to GOPAC’s board on Wednesday was Jabo Covert, the senior vice president of government affairs for Jones Management.
 
“We are delighted that Dan and Jabo are joining GOPAC’s board of directors,” said Frank Donatelli, the chairman of GOPAC. “Their experience and expertise will be valuable assets as we continue advancing our mission to educate and elect a new generation of Republican leaders.”
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Conservative group Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) announced on Wednesday that former Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer will be speaking at their annual award dinner in Orlando on Oct. 11.

While best known for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, Bauer also served in the Reagan administration, working on domestic issues and rising to serve as deputy undersecretary of education. Bauer also led the Family Research Council (FRC) and has stayed active with American Values and the Campaign for Working Families, one of the leading social conservative PACs at the national level. Serving on the board of Christians United for Israel, Bauer has been a vigorous supporter of that nation during the recent crisis in the Middle East.

In recent days, Bauer has weighed in on the 2016 presidential contest, warning Republicans they cannot take evangelical voters and religious conservatives for granted. While the Campaign for Working Families has made endorsements around the nation in the 2014 election cycle, so far Bauer’s group has not backed any candidates in Florida.
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Florida TaxWatch released “How Florida Compares -- Education" looking at how education in the Sunshine State does against the other states. The report finds Florida is third in the nation for K-0 enrollment and has the second best value for in-state tuition at state universities and colleges.

"It is imperative to understand how our school systems are matching up to those around the country in order to best meet the needs of Florida students," said Bob Nave, the director of Florida TaxWatch’s Center for Educational Performance and Accountability. "Florida students must remain competitive with their peers both nationally and globally, and understanding where we rank will help policymakers and education leaders fine tune our public schools to produce the best outcomes for Florida students."

"This year, Florida lawmakers spent nearly $22.5 billion to fund education programs for Florida students, which illustrates a commitment to raising achievement in our state's classrooms," said Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.
 
The report can be read here.
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Gov. Rick Scott slightly expanded his lead over former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite to win next week’s Democratic primary, in the latest WFLA poll taken by Survey USA.

The poll, which was released on Tuesday, finds Scott ahead with 44 percent followed by Crist with 41 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie takes 4 percent.

For two weeks, the WFLA poll showed Scott leading by 2 percent.

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.

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