"As I wrestled with this decision, I thought about my mom and her struggles to get my little brother the care he needed with very little money," Scott said. "I concluded that for the three years the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost of new people in Medicaid, I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care."

The remark received enthusiastic applause from Democrats. The idea is less popular with Republicans â¿¿ earlier in the day House Speaker Will Weatherford blasted the plan to expand Medicaid.

"I was the only Republican standing so I've got my work cut out for me, don't I?" said Rep. Mike Fasano of New Port Richey. "You have a speaker who is very adamantly opposed to it."

Scott also pushed for his proposed $2,500 across the board pay raise for teachers, and answered critics who say it's hypocritical to suggest the raise for all teachers two years after signing a bill to create a merit pay system.

"Some say they are afraid raises to all teachers may mean that a teacher doing a bad job gets rewarded. But thanks to our work, we are now in a better position than ever before to reward good teachers and move bad teachers out of the classroom," Scott said. "We don't want a war on teachers, we want a war on failure."

Democrats responded more enthusiastically to the idea than Republicans. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, an Orlando Democrat, said she was "elated" to hear Scott talking about the concerns of working class folk.

"You know, connecting to regular people, he should do more of that," she said. "That's the Rick Scott seeking to stay in the governor's mansion."

Scott also answered skeptics who say Florida's job growth is part of the recovery of the U.S. economy and the governor shouldn't get the credit.

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