Fact-checking Gov. Scott's first State of the State

Gov. Rick Scott will give his first State of the State speech on March 8, 2011.
Gov. Rick Scott will give his first State of the State speech on March 8, 2011.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will deliver his first State of the State speech at 6 p.m. March 8, 2011, the opening day of the spring legislative session -- and we’ll be fact-checking. 

We’ll listen to Scott’s claims and explanations, then check them quickly Tuesday night and Wednesday. For the fastest updates, follow us @politifact_fl on Twitter. And if you hear claims you think we should check, e-mail us at [email protected]

Since his inauguration Jan. 4, Scott has not had a guaranteed statewide television audience, and he has a lot of ground to cover. For starters, there’s the nearly $4 billion budget gap he’ll be arguing about with the Legislature.

When Scott released his budget proposal Feb. 7, the online demand for it was so great that the state servers shut down temporarily. And the details of his plan have stirred a fevered reaction. State agency bureaucrats are unhappy about paying into their pension plans, increased costs of health care benefits, and a 10 percent reduction in the state workforce. Teachers are fretting about all that – plus a cut in state money for education.

Collective bargaining groups, including politically powerful police and firefighters, are wary of how their unions will fare in this atmosphere. Social service agencies are worried about the impact of budget cuts on the people they serve. Business groups, on the other hand, are cheering the corporate income tax cuts and big increases in money for company recruiting and economic development.

Jobs, of course, are Scott’s favorite topic, so expect to hear about how we will get more of them. And we’ll likely hear about why freezing all regulations and taking a business approach to government are good moves.

Scott made dozens of promises during the campaign, and he’s already put many of his ideas into play. Some were direct action like selling the state planes and pushing in Washington for more flexibility on Medicaid. Other promises have been put forward in hearings or proposed bills, such as merit pay and an end to tenure for teachers.

High-speed rail, right now, is probably not his favorite topic, but Scott may use the opportunity to explain again why he pulled the plug on the Orlando-Tampa line. But since the state Supreme Court backed him in its speedy March 4 ruling, he may avoid the topic.