Florida Gov. Rick Scott proclaimed Friday that he achieved a key promise from his 2010 campaign, as the state has added more than 700,000 jobs since he took office.
Except that’s not what he promised.
Scott actually said on several occasions that his policies would create 1.7 million jobs by 2018 — 700,000 in addition to the 1 million jobs that state economists said would be created naturally as the state recovered from the Great Recession.
After the election, Scott’s aides backed away from that and began citing the 700,000 figure.
Scott repeated that assertion again on Friday.
“Four years ago, we unveiled an ambitious plan to fix Florida’s economy and turn the state around,” Scott said in a written statement. “Our goal was to create 700,000 jobs in seven years. Today our goal was reached three years early.”
Scott made his victory declaration during a visit to a central Florida financial services company. He announced the job figures while also announcing that the state’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent in November, the lowest it has been since May 2008.
The drop was aided by the addition of nearly 42,000 jobs last month. That addition pushed the total number of jobs created since December 2010 to just over 700,000. Florida trailed only California in the number of jobs added in November.
(Miami-Dade County added 14,400 jobs in November, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate ticked down 0.1 points to 6.4 percent. Broward County improved by 0.2 points to 4.8 percent.)
“Every job impacts a family and we will keep working each day to make Florida the world’s number one destination for jobs,” Scott said.
Democrats on Friday labeled Scott a liar, citing his past insistence that his policies would create jobs “on top” of normal growth.
“Rick Scott is starting his second term the same as his first,” said Joshua Karp, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. “With lies that don’t help the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who can’t find a job because of Tallahassee Republicans who put the special interests first and middle-class families last.”
During the 2010 campaign Scott campaigned on his “7-7-7” plan — or seven steps to create 700,000 jobs over seven years. The plan called for deep tax cuts, eliminating regulations that he said were hampering business growth and steep cuts in government spending.
Scott insisted that plan has worked even though key parts of the plan — such as eliminating the state’s corporate income tax — have been largely ignored by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Scott did cut the state budget significantly during his first year, but the budget has begun to grow again and is now roughly $77 billion. It was $70 billion when he took office.
Economists four years ago predicted that Florida would gain about a million jobs in seven years no matter who was governor, or 300,000 more than Scott promised. When asked about that, Scott said his promised jobs would be “on top of” the forecast. During a 2010 debate he said they would be in addition to “normal growth.”
After the election, Scott insisted he never said it would be on top of normal growth. In late 2011 he said his intent was to create 700,000 jobs “no matter what the economy might otherwise gain or lose.”
Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott, contended that Scott’s jobs pledge had been met because the economy wasn’t growing at all in the four years when Gov. Charlie Crist was in office from 2007 to 2011. Florida did shed hundreds of thousands of jobs while Crist was governor, but added about 43,000 jobs during his final year in office.
“If you look back over the last four years we are outpacing the nation beyond what anyone would have ever thought,” Schutz said.