Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Fact-checking Rick Scott's State of the State speech

Rick Scott delivered his second State of the State address on Jan. 10, 2012.
Rick Scott delivered his second State of the State address on Jan. 10, 2012.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's second State of the State address Jan. 10, 2012, included comparisons between the tax situation in New York and Florida, a diagnostic of the state's unemployment rate and a surprising amount of talk about doughnuts.

PolitiFact Florida is fact-checking the governor's address and plans to update this space with our results.

Our first fact-check looked into Scott's claim that while working at a Tampa bakery last year he sold out 240 dozen doughnuts. That's not quite right. Scott sold about 80 dozen doughnuts that August 2011 morning working at Nicola's Donuts in Tampa. The rest of the doughnuts were sold either after he left or at another location, the bakery's owners told us.

More substantially, Scott said his recommended budget included "$1 billion in new funding for education." Scott is planning on increasing education funding, but part of the $1 billion goes to make up for other lost revenue. And, the $1 billion doesn't fully make up for the cuts Scott approved last year. We rated his statement Half True. 

On jobs, Scott said Florida was on its way. "In the past year, Floridians, not government, created almost 135,000 new private sector jobs. We netted more than 120,000 total jobs in the first 11 months of 2011; the third most of any state in the nation," Scott said. We checked his numbers and found they were right. But Florida being third for job creation is roughly what would be expected for a state of our size. Our unemployment rates remain the highest in the nation. Still, Scott used accurate numbers to suggest we're seeing green shoots, so we rate his claim Mostly True. 

On taxes, Scott said one of Florida's selling points is its overall low tax burden. In comments aimed at New Yorkers, Scott said, "Our temperature outdoors is about twice as high as yours, and your (state) tax burden per citizen is about twice as high as ours. Those are good numbers for us." We found that economists argued with whether low tax burdens created economic growth. But New York taxes are close to double Florida's, so we rated his statement Mostly True. 

(10 News in Tampa highlighted our fact-checks in a video report, which you can watch here,)