Rick Scott's State of Denial
No surprise: Rick Scott is in trouble.
After cutting more jobs than he created in Florida in 2012, failing to keep his promise to create 700,000 new jobs and a disastrous election year where the Florida GOP got their teeth kicked in, Gov. Rick Scott is running away from everything he campaigned on to get reelected.
Scott, the hardcore Tea Party conservative who spent $5 million of his own money to defeat the Affordable Care Act and who slashed education funding by $1.3 billion, calling it not a “core function” of the state, is now arguing for investments in education and the expansion of Medicaid under the President’s health care law.
An embattled Scott will limp onto the stage tomorrow and abandon his principles, with carefully crafted poll-tested promises about putting “Florida Families First,” ignoring his record, actions and pledges over the past three years. With his own party turning it’s back on him and his approval rating still underwater from cutting funding for education and other critical community services while giving millions in handouts to big corporations -- Scott is desperately backpedaling. Nobody will be fooled: the only thing this speech puts first is Scott’s reelection.
Thanks for the sudden interest in Florida’s families, Governor. But your State of the State is nothing more than a State of Denial about your record of putting corporations and special interests ahead of middle class families -- and nobody is buying it.
SCOTT FAILED TO DELIVER ON JOBS
Key Point: Scott has failed to deliver on his pledge to create 700,000 new jobs. In fact, Scott cut more jobs than he created in 2012, and the jobs he has created aren’t the high-quality, high-paying positions of the future. Meanwhile, Scott’s policies have punished those who are unemployed and looking for work.
Scott Pledged To Create 700,000 Jobs “On Top Of Normal Growth”, Then Changed His Mind “[During an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Scott was asked] ‘Your pledge was for 700,000 in addition to normal growth, wasn't it?’ No, he replied. The problem with Scott's new position is that there are at least two times during the campaign -- captured on video -- where Scott said the exact opposite. And in both those cases, someone asked Scott a follow up question. And in both replies, Scott reinforced his position -- 700,000 jobs, on top of normal growth.” [Tampa Bay Times, 10/4/11]
Scott’s Cut More Jobs Than He Created In 2012: Since the beginning of 2012, Florida has added7,800 private sector jobs, but has cut 9,600 public sector jobs. [DOE, 8/17/12]
Scott’s Policies Haven’t Produced The High-Quality, High-Paying Positions Of The Future Over the last year, temporary employment agencies and amusement parks added 30,900 jobs, which accounts for over 40% of private sector job growth. [DOE, 8/17/12]
Things Would Be Different If Scott Had Followed Obama’s Leadership and Made Critical Investments In: Infrastructure (Construction saw 16,500 jobs lost since2011), education (3,700 jobs lost since 2011), and protected vitalstate and local government programs (10,700 jobs lost since 2011). [DOE, 8/17/12]
With Improving Economy, Scott Chose To Punish Those Still Unemployed “For each half a percent decline in the third-quarter average, a week is cut from the maximum weeks available…if the statewide average remains between 8.5 percent and 8.9 percent for the next three months, the total weeks available in 2013 will drop from 23 to 19. The measure has been criticized by worker-advocacy groups, which point out that job seekers still outnumber job openings by almost 4-to-1.” [Orlando Sentinel, 7/4/12]
CORPORATE WELFARE & TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH
Key Point: Scott has slashed over $1 billion in funding from our children’s education to pay for big tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy. Scott is even urging lawmakers to double the economic incentive budget as his office’s controversial program comes under fire over questions of effectiveness.
Lobbyists Run Scott’s Florida: Big Business Given $2.5 Billion In Special Tax Breaks “[For] the powerful business lobby that thought up many of carefully crafted tax breaks, the Legislaturethis year proved a friendly place. The total package of business tax reliefapproved during the 60-day legislative session that ended Friday totaled about $750 million this year, and more than $2.5 billion over the next three years.” [Miami Herald, 3/10/12]
Scott Gave Billionaire A Specially-Crafted $1.2 Million Tax Break “Frank Stronach, a billionaire horse breeder whose Gulfstream Park racino has a team of nine lobbyists in Tallahassee, could save millions. He is likely to benefit fromcorporate tax cuts for his businesses and a $1.2 million tax break carved out specifically for a slaughterhouse he is building near Ocala.” [Miami Herald, 3/10/12]
Scott Claims Tax Breaks For Billionaires Make Jobs ‘Grow Like Crazy’ “Backed by businessman-turned-governor Rick Scott, the business-friendly tax plan has been touted as a surefire way to bring Florida’s wounded economy back to life. ‘If we put Florida companies in the position where we can outcompete companies in any other state, in any other country, what happens?’ Scott asked during his State of the State speech in January. ‘Jobs are going to grow like crazy.’” [Miami Herald, 3/10/12]
But Top Aide of Gov. Scott: ‘No Immediate Job Growth’ From Rich Tax Breaks “Scott has said jobs will ‘grow like crazy; as a result of tax cuts that make Florida more business friendly. But one of Scott's top advisers acknowledged immediate job growthisn't likely as a result of tax breaks here and there.’” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/21/12]
Scott Doling Out Millions in Tax Dollars for Embattled Economic Incentives Program
“The program uses taxpayer funds and tax credits to draw companies to Florida—or, more often, to get companies that are already here to stay or expand. Gov. Rick Scott released his budget proposal last month, including a massive increase in spending for these types of incentives. Scott wants legislators to approve nearly $300 million in incentives, up from about $110 million approved last year. That proposal—and the high profile bankruptcy of Digital Domain, which received $20 million from taxpayers—has led to much more scrutiny into the economic incentives program. That has landed Enterprise Florida in the hot seat, with officials being called to testify before the Legislature more than a dozen times in the last few weeks.” [Miami Herald, 2/12/13]
Banah Sugar Bankruptcy Declared After Miami-Dade, Enterprise Florida Awarded Incentives “When Banah International Group, a sugar company, agreed to establish its headquarters in Miami-Dade County — lured by $430,000 in state and county tax breaks — the announcement was trumpeted from County Hall to Capitol Hill. But after falling under a load of debt, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, just over a year after the tax incentives were approved. That development has raised new questions about how thoroughly the company was vetted by Enterprise Florida, the state agency that decides who should receive tax breaks here.” [New York Times, 2/25/13]
Scott Wants to Double Economic Incentive Budget During Controversy Over Program’s Effectiveness “Enterprise Florida is making a big ask this year: boosting economic-incentives from $111 million to $278 million, opening offices in China and Japan, $3 million for a “branding” campaign, and another $10 million “bonus” for itself it makes Florida the most “business-friendly” in the state.” [Orlando Sentinel, 2/12/13]
Scott’s Economist When Asked Whether Economic Incentives Program Was Creating Jobs: ‘Can’t Tell You’ “When Scott's economist, Christian Weiss, was pitching the governor's plan for more incentives and $160 million in business-tax cuts, lawmakers grilled him on how many of the 200,000 "private" jobs created during Scott's two years were a result of his tax policies — which have so far fallen well short of his campaign pledges. ‘I can't tell you,’ Weiss said.” [Orlando Sentinel, 2/15/13]
GOP Loophole Lets Big Companies Avoid Millions in Florida Taxes “(…)For at least a decade, when Circle K's cash registers rang in Florida, a portion of the sales was passed on to a company subsidiary in Delaware — beyond the reach of Florida's corporate-income tax…The arrangement allowed Circle K Stores Inc. to shield $56 million in profits from Florida's income tax during a three-year period — and saved the company as much as $3 million in taxes… Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake… It all appears legal — thanks to an apparent ‘loophole’ in Florida's corporate-income-tax law... And unless the Florida Legislatureacts, the judge in that case has ruled, he and others are helpless to stop the practice…Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature has rejected previous attempts to clamp down on such tactics.” [Orlando Sentinel, 2/16/13]
Scott Approves 12th University for Fellow GOP Lawmaker Which Siphons Funding From FL’s Already Underfunded Schools “Last year Florida lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott made a mockery of Florida's higher education system when they created a 12th university while cutting the existing universities' budgets by $300 million. Supporters insisted that transforming the University of South Florida's Polytechnic branch campus in Lakeland into an independent university would not cost any additional dollars or harm other universities. It was all a big fraud, as is abundantly apparent now… Florida Polytechnic University's trustees are asking for an additional $25 million this year, though it has about $109 million to get the university running by 2014.” [Tampa Tribune, 2/19/13]
BUDGET CUTS: KILLED JOBS, HURT STUDENTS & FAMILIES
Key Point: This Governor has led an all out assault on Florida's schools. Scott slashed over a billion dollars from education so he could give millions of our tax dollars to corporations. Scott has also cut millions from Florida's universities and colleges: causing tuition to spike for students while cutting Bright Futures scholarships formiddle-class families.
4,500 Jobs Cut By Gov. Scott In 2011 “Democrats, though, are calling the budget a job-killer because it eliminates about 4,500 state positions, most of them filled, andcuts $1.35 billion from education, which is expected to cause more layoffs in school districts.” [Tampa Bay Times, 5/26/11]
4,900 Jobs Cut by Gov. Scott In 2012 “The new budget which takes effect on July 1 doesn't raise taxes while eliminating 4,000 state positions, slashing money for hospitals and universities and potentially cutting services provided by county court clerks by forcing them to lay off 900 workers.” [Associated Press, 4/17/12]
Scott Cut 2,534 Teachers During First Year [Florida Department of Education, “Staff in 2011”, 9/1/11]
Republicans Puts Corporate Special Interests Over Middle-Class Families “The proposed 2012-13 budget…is a study in pork-barrel spending, reckless policy and a shortchanged future.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/12]
In 2012, Republicans Cut $300 Million For Higher Education And Universities. “The House and Senate have agreed to cut universities by $300 million” [Palm Beach Post, 3/1/12]
Florida Colleges Forced To Charge 15% More Tuition After Budget Cuts “University presidents say the higher tuition is necessary to cushion the blow of state budget cuts during the sour economy. State government’s contribution to the cost of a college education has been steadily shrinking — system-wide, universities this year absorbed a $300 million cut in the budget approved by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Rick Scott…[for example] tuition at Florida International University will rise 15 percent (for the fifth year in a row), costing a full-time undergrad an extra $608.70 a year.” [Miami Herald, 6/21/12]
Republicans Forced Students To Face Tuition Increases “Students still could face double-digit tuition increases while schools will spend less to educate them” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/7/2012]; “’We are being put in a position of having no choice but to raise tuition,’ Ramil said” [WUSF, 3/1/12]
UCF Trustees Made Clear That State Budget Cuts to Higher Education Were Prompting Tuition Increases “UCF trustees reluctantly approved tuition increases in May while making it clear that they are concerned about repeated state budget cuts to higher education” [UCF Board of Governors, 6/21/12]
GOP Funding Cuts To The Bright Futures Program Are Raising The Cost Of Higher Education For Students. "The Florida Lottery's contribution to Bright Futures has declined by $41 million in transferred funds to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program, according to Florida Department of Education officials. Deborah Higgins, Bright Futures information specialist with the Florida Department of Education, said fundshave decreased because the Florida Legislature appropriated less funding for the program this year…'The award per credit hour to be funded was reduced, therefore eligible students will receive a lesser award per their enrollment,' said Higgins about the effects of funding cuts on the Florida Bright Futures program and on Florida students.” [The FAMUAN, 10/16/12]
Scott Slashed $1.3 Billion From Education “Scott and lawmakers cut $1.3 billion from Florida classrooms, bringing per-pupil spending to its lowest level in six years.” [Palm Beach Post, 4/18/12]
Republicans Cut Funding For Public Education For Five Consecutive Years, Including Cutting $1.3 Billion In 2011 Alone “The budget does not make up for five consecutive years of cuts to K-12 spending, including $1.3 billion in cuts Scott approved last year.” [Times Herald, 4/18/12; SB 2000, Vote [Seq# 628], 5/7/2011]
In 2012, Scott and GOP Failed To Restore Education Funding To The Same Level Following Their Historic Cuts “The boost from last year does not overcome past budget cuts — $1.3 billion statewide last year alone;” "Scott also brags in the ad that the state put $1 billion more into school funding this year, whollyignoring the $1.3 billion in cuts to K-12 funding Scott approved the previous year." [Florida Times Union, 2/28/12; Tampa Bay Times,9/12/12; HB 5001, Vote [Seq #1206], 3/9/2012]
Scott and GOP Gave $55 Million To Corporate Charter Schools, While Public Schools Got Zero Dollars "School district officials across Florida are bemoaning the Legislature's decision to cut traditional public schools out of PECO — the Public Education Capital Outlay program. The state's 350 charter schools will share $55 million, while the approximately 3,000 traditional schools will go without." [Orlando Sentinel, 7/25/11]
Scott Vetoed Aid To Children With Autism “He [Rick Scott] vetoed money for two programs to aid families of children with autism.” [Tampa Bay Times, 4/18/12]
Scott Cut $12 Million From Homeless Veteran Program “Scott also vetoed $12 million for a homeless veterans program in Brevard County pushed by Haridopolos, a Brevard resident...” [Tampa Bay Times, 5/26/11]