Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Fact-checking Rick Scott's table setting

Members of the Florida Council of 100 were greeted with this political-style handout from the governor's office as they sat down to dinner at a Clearwater Beach resort.
Members of the Florida Council of 100 were greeted with this political-style handout from the governor's office as they sat down to dinner at a Clearwater Beach resort.

Dining with Gov. Rick Scott? Before chowing down, he asks that you please review his accomplishments for Florida families.

Members of the Florida Council of 100 and Scott gathered May 16 for a meeting at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater. Included in their place settings was a souvenir of sorts: a fact sheet touting Scott's almost two and a half years in office. The campaign-style flier comes from the governor's office and does not have a political disclaimer.

Some of Scott's achievement menu is missing context and has been explained by PolitiFact Florida. Let's review,

"When I ran for governor I committed to creating 700,000 jobs in seven years."

Who could forget Scott's 7-7-7 plan from the campaign trail? In a way, Scott has done just that.

Since taking office, he's dropped a key detail from his pledge. He had said those 700,000 jobs would come on top of the state's normal growth as it rebounded from the recession. State economists said Florida would add 1 million jobs by 2017. The state is creating jobs, yes, but not at a clip to meet 1.7 million jobs. This promise is rated Stalled on the Scott-O-Meter as a result.

On a similar note Monday, Scott claimed, "We are almost halfway to our 2010 goal of creating 700,000 new jobs in seven years." PolitiFact Florida rated that Mostly False because it's only accurate if you drop the details that clarified his promise (coming from his mouth in 2010).

"In the four years before I took office, Florida's families had lost 832,000 jobs. ... unemployment had more than tripled -- from 3.5% to 11.1%."

This talking point is also known as "In your face, Charlie Crist!" PolitiFact Florida found Scott's numbers are accurate, but his statement glosses over additional information -- namely, the state's housing bust and a national economic downturn -- that would make it more fair. We rated it Half True.

"In the four years before I took office, state debt increased by $5.2 billion. Since I took office almost two years ago, we cut state debt by $2 billion."

Another parting shot at Crist, and another Half True. Scott's numbers are off, as some of the state debt he assigns to Crist was authorized in budgets before Crist took office. And while it's well-known Scott has little appetite for increasing the state's debt burden and has reduced it, it's not completely fair to pin all of the state's debt on a governor when the Legislature plays a role, too.