The 2015 session of the Legislature opened Tuesday in Tallahassee with an upbeat State of the State speech from Gov. Rick Scott, who described a Florida where "everything is possible."
Addressing all 160 lawmakers in the House chamber, Scott reiterated his goals of cutting taxes, spending more money for public schools and job training and freezing graduate school tuition in Florida universities.
"We agree on more than we disagree on," Scott said in prepared remarks. "We want to give families back more of the money they earn and reduce the burden of government."
He asked lawmakers to help him keep a campaign promise to raise K-12 funding to its highest level in state history. That's likely to happen, but Scott's call for a freeze on graduate school tuition is already drawing resistance from lawmakers.
Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, told the Times/Herald: "There will be a pretty strong argument made by universities that graduate school costs are different than for undergraduates. That's one I would keep an eye on."
Scott's optimistic speech made no mention of current controversies over high-stakes testing of Florida students, the festering crisis in the state prison system or whether the state should expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Scott, a Republican, was re-elected in November with 48 percent of the vote, making him the only governor in Florida's 170-year history to win consecutive terms without receiving a majority of the vote either time. He has strong Republican majorities in both the Senate and House, but legislative leaders have already demonstrated a new willingness to test Scott and to emphasize their own priorities.