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Rick Scott, the candidate, ran on a platform of creating jobs. That's why the businessman-turned-politician won a bruising Republican primary last summer, he said. That's why he squeaked by Democrat Alex Sink in November 2010. "That was my whole campaign," he said in February. "Seven steps to 700,000 jobs over seven years."
And more than a year since candidate Scott rolled out his 7-7-7 plan, Gov. Scott still talks frequently about those 700,000 jobs.
But just how do you keep track?
Scott the candidate offered one measure: "Our plan is seven steps to 700,000 jobs," he said in a debate a year ago, "and that plan is on top of what normal growth would be." Now Scott the governor is offering another. "700,000," he told reporters Oct. 4, 2011, when asked how many jobs he promised to create.
"But the initial promise was to create 700,000 on top of projected growth," Scott was asked.
"No," Scott said.
While the creation of those jobs is a central promise we're tracking on the Scott-O-Meter, we wanted to rate Scott's statements about his promise on our Flip-O-Meter, which PolitiFact Florida created to measure whether a candidate's shifting on any particular position.
Scott: 'We're going to grow 700,000 more jobs'
Let's rewind to July 2010. State economists had already estimated Florida's recession rebound — no matter who the new governor might be — would add more than 1 million jobs by 2017. On July 21, Scott unveiled his 7-7-7 plan. He would introduce "accountability budgeting." He would reduce government spending. He would cut regulation. He would focus on job growth and retention. He would invest in world-class universities. He would shrink property taxes. He would get rid of the state's corporate income tax. Those changes would create 665,000 jobs over seven years. He rounded up, and the 700,000 jobs promise was born.
Reporters wanted to know: If the state's expected growth alone was projected to restore 1 million jobs, did that mean Scott's structural changes to spending, regulation and the tax code would add 700,000 more?
"Are those jobs that are in addition to the number of jobs that are going to be created automatically, just without any change in tax policy over the next five or 10 years?" a reporter asked Scott while traveling on his campaign bus. (We know, because we have the video.)
Scott answered yes, then pointed out that jobs aren't created automatically. The reporter then corrected himself.
"Well, projected. The job creation that is projected over the next five years," he said.
"It's what's projected, yeah. It's what's projected, yeah," Scott said, nodding. "It's on top of that. If you do these things we're going to grow 700,000 more jobs."
Reporters had their answer. Scott's plan would "grow 700,000 more jobs" than Florida would generate without him.
Three months later, Scott made pretty much the same statement during a debate sponsored by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association. (We have video of that, too.)
"Our plan is seven steps to 700,000 jobs, and that plan is on top of what normal growth would be," Scott said.
The debate moderator later noted that would mean creating about 1.7 million jobs, when only about 1 million Floridians were currently unemployed.
"We're going to grow the state," Scott responded.
In November, Florida elected the jobs governor.
Scott: 'I don't know who said that'
Not long after that, Scott moved the goalpost.
The new promise: Create 700,000 jobs. Period.
In June, Scott spokesman Brian Burgess touted news that Florida had added 50,000 jobs since January, saying that Scott was going to count every one toward keeping his promise.
In the same few days, another Scott spokesman, Lane Wright, brushed off a question about Scott's original promise to create 700,000 jobs "on top of what normal growth would be."
"Gov. Scott committed to creating 700,000 jobs in seven years, and we are on track to meet that goal," Wright said.
In August, the governor himself weighed in. An Associated Press reporter reminded Scott that his jobs plan was designed to generate 700,000 jobs on top of those restored by the state's expected growth.
So, the reporter pushed, statements by his campaign were totally wrong?
"I don't know who said that," Scott said. "I have no idea."
Last week, the governor again faced the question he was asked as a candidate, nearly a year prior. This time, instead of a debate audience, Scott faced members of the Sun Sentinel editorial board.
"Your pledge was for 700,000 in addition to normal growth, wasn't it?'' Scott was asked.
No, he replied.
To be clear: That's a difference of about 1 million jobs.
CQ Newsmaker Transcripts, "Florida Republican Gubernatorial Nominee Rick Scott Interviewed on CNN," Aug. 26, 2010 (subscription only)
CQ Newsmaker Transcripts, "Florida Republican Governor-Elect Rick Scott Interviewed on Fox News," Dec. 13, 2010 (subscription only)
CQ Newsmaker Transcripts, "Gov. Scott Interviewed on CNN," Feb. 8, 2011 (subscription only)
PolitiFact Florida Scott-O-Meter, "Create over 700,000 jobs," accessed Sept. 30, 2011
St. Petersburg Times, "Gov. Rick Scott dials back his '7-7-7' campaign pledge," Oct. 4, 2011 (Video)
St. Petersburg Times' Buzz blog, "Rick Scott unveils economic plan," July 21, 2010
SunSentinel.com, "Rick Scott's jobs pledge = McCollum's, only bigger" July 21, 2010
St. Petersburg Times' Buzz blog, "Governor candidates offer two approaches to job creation: cut or enhance," Sept. 5, 2010
St. Petersburg Times, "A closer look at Rick Scott's jobs plan shows his challenges," Dec. 23, 2010
Bradenton Herald, "Public vs. private unemployment," Feb. 14, 2011
Associated Press, "Gov. Scott's Plan For Job Growth Faces Skepticism," Feb. 21, 2011
St. Petersburg Times, "Union leaders evaluating Scott's first 100 days give him failing grade," April 14, 2011
Office of the Governor, "Governor Rick Scott’s Weekly Radio Address," May 6, 2011
St. Petersburg Times, "Gov. Rick Scott takes credit for business expansion that started before he took office," June 9, 2011
Tampa Tribune, "Is Scott the 'jobs governor' he promised to be?" June 12, 2011
Orlando Sentinel, Scott Maxwell column, "Rick Scott's 700,000 jobs: Where does the meter stand?" June 18, 2011
PolitiFact Florida, "Florida under Gov. Rick Scott: Adding jobs, or destroying them?" July 2, 2011
St. Petersburg Times' Buzz blog, "Scott on horse manure, unemployment and doughnut-eating cops," Aug. 3, 2011
Orlando Sentinel, "Politicians on both sides will play on economic fears," Aug. 6, 2011
Orlando Sentinel, Central Florida Political Pulse, "Scott: All new jobs count toward 700,000 goal," Aug. 18, 2011
Associated Press, "Scott still positive on jobs despite Fla. losses," Aug. 19, 2011
Orlando Sentinel, Beth Kassab column, "Scott lowers bar for jobs goal," Aug. 21, 2011
Sun Sentinel, "Is Governor Scott's 7-7-7 pledge a roll of the dice?" September 2011 (Video)
E-mail interview with Brian Burgess, communications director for Gov. Rick Scott, Sept. 30, 2011
Governor's Office, "Statement from Governor Rick Scott on August Job Growth," Sept. 16, 2011
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