Will Weatherford still supports Stand Your Ground and opposes FL Medicaid expansion
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09/11/13 Naveen Sultan
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

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Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford defended his views on education and the state’s Stand Your Ground Law to members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg Tuesday. Weatherford also stood by his opposition to expanding Medicaid in Florida under the new federal health care law.

Speaker Weatherford told members of Tiger Bay multi-generational poverty exists but the answer to fix this crisis is not through government assistance programs such as Medicaid. He spoke strongly against accepting money from the federal government to expand Medicaid in Florida because the state would eventually have to pay a portion of the program’s cost.

“Medicaid has proven to be one the worst forms of health insurance you can get in America. Nobody in here would want to be on Medicaid. Nobody in here would want to trade your private healthcare insurance to put you and your family on Medicaid. You would not do that.”

Michele Cavallo is a Republican member of Tiger Bay. She says that even though she supports the speaker’s opinions she still thinks Medicaid is important.

“I think that there is always going to be a segment of our society that needs our help. So I definitely believe we need social programs and we need Medicare and Medicaid and I want it to be strong and robust but I also believe in free enterprise.”

Speaker Weatherford said that education expansion is key to a successful workforce and the elimination of poverty. He suggested that better preparing students for college and work life should be top priority in debates over education. One controversy is over education standards Florida, and many other states, plan to implement in the next few years.

"And so while we’re having this debate about Common Core and the grading system and how we should pay our teachers and how we should assess our students’ performance just remember that one out three students is ready for college when they go there and we’ve got to fix that. So I don’t care what the standard is. We’re going to have a big debate about Common Core and I’ve been supportive of that in the past and I’ve been criticized from people from my own party for that but whatever the standard is we’ve got to raise the bar because just giving someone a certificate and telling them it’s marketable in the private sector when it’s not – is not getting it done anymore."

Weatherford was asked whether he supports Florida’s controversial stand your ground law that allows someone to use violent force instead of retreating when faced with danger. He responded that although he’s open to debating the law and hearing from the public safety community, his personal opinion is to leave it as-is.

“When 67 sheriffs in the state of Florida and over 58 of them tell me that we don’t need to change Stand Your Ground and their job is to protect Floridians and over two-thirds of them said don’t change it. It’s hard for me to change my opinion and say we should. “

The House will hold hearings this fall on the Stand Your Ground Law lead by Representative Matt Gaetz.

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