Fact-checking Rick Scott's jabs at Charlie Crist in Lakewood Ranch

kirby@bradenton.comMay 21, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Gov. Rick Scott made several assertions to media at Wednesday's fundraising event about his opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist. While for the most part those statements were factually accurate, they could use some additional explanations.

The statements, explanations and some of the responses of Kevin Cate, Crist's spokesperson:

Scott statement: “This year we cut $500 million in taxes — $400 million of that were taxes Charlie Crist raised in 2009.”

Explanation: Scott signed a bill in April to cut annual vehicle registration fees, which he said would amount to $25 per person per vehicle or $400 million statewide. The other $100 million refers to a bill signed May 12 that provides sales tax holidays to Floridians when buying items such as hurricane preparation and school supplies.

Crist response: Cate said the legislation was meant as a temporary measure to get through the recession, and was meant to be repealed sooner than Scott did. He also said Scott’s Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera voted to approve those fees.

“Those taxes were 90 percent under (Scott’s) administration, and they were not meant to be in place for as long as they were,” Cate said.

Scott statement: “While (Crist) was governor, the state lost 832,000 jobs.”

Explanation: The number is correct, but Scott fails to mention the global economic downturn and the housing bust, which ravaged Florida’s economy.

Scott statement: “(Crist) left me with a $3.6 billion budget deficit.”

Explanation: Deficits in state budgets are unconstitutional, so a more accurate word would be shortfall. By law, the state must balance the budget by the end of the year so, though Scott came in during a $3.6 billion shortfall, he and the state Legislature legally had to balance the budget.

Scott statement: “We’ve added more than 600,000 private sector jobs.”

Explanation: That number is fairly accurate, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which reports 549,000 jobs were added between December 2010 and April. Scott started his term with an economy in a Great Recession, and economists at the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research concluded 1.05 million jobs would be added naturally by 2018. If the next four years match that 550,000, 1.1 million would be added by 2018, and only 95,000 would not be covered by the 1.05 million figure.

Crist response: Cate said Scott had originally made a promise to add 1.7 million jobs by 2018, which included jobs economists predicted would be added regardless of who was governor.

“(Scott) is trying to take credit for the economic recovery,” Cate said.

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