On schools, it's New Rick vs. Old Rick

What a difference a year makes.

Fresh off his first year in office, Gov. Rick Scott is demanding $1 billion in new money for public schools.

Yep, demanding.

During his State of the State speech Tuesday, Scott described the increased spending as "the single most important decision we can make today."

He even warned legislators not to cross him, saying: "On this point, I just cannot budge."

Scott sounded like a pro wrestler, threatening to body slam anyone who cuts school funding.

Of course, the reality is that the first body Scott should slam is his own.

Because it was just last year when he socked Florida schools with the biggest hit they've ever seen.

Not only did he cut the money — costing teachers their jobs and children their classes — he bragged about it, calling it a commitment to leaner and meaner government.

Yet now he's talking just as tough about more money for schools. So what changed?

Voters body-slammed him in the polls, that's what.

He has the kind of approval ratings usually reserved for ingrown toenails. And Scott knew the only way to get out of a voter-initiated headlock was to reverse himself.

Which brings us to the cage match we're now seeing in Tallahassee — not between Democrats and Republicans, but between Old Rick and New Rick.

Old Rick described teachers as part of the problem.

New Rick plucked a teacher out of South Florida to use as a prop during his speech Tuesday.

Old Rick said low taxes were the No. 1 way to improve an economy.

New Rick said: "While lowering taxes and eliminating unnecessary regulations are critical, the bedrock of any sound, sustainable economy is an educated workforce …"

How enlightened New Rick seems. Nothing opens a politician's eyes more than an electoral kick in the pants.

Of course, even if New Rick infuses Florida schools with $1 billion, he still won't undo the damage done by Old Rick, who last year proposed cuts of more than $2 billion.


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