“He’s a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction…”
When Kris Kristofferson wrote that line in his classic 1971 song, “He’s a Pilgrim,” he might have been having a premonition about this week’s paradoxical 2014 State of the State speech delivered by Gov. Rick Scott.
In the 2013 version, Scott said, “Accountability is working” with such sincerity it made one wish he were talking about himself, and other GOP incumbents.
But no, he was talking about Florida’s underpaid, overburdened public school teachers, who have him and Republicans in the Legislature to thank for putting them under a micromanaging microscope that pandering politicians would better be bullied beneath instead.
Since he’s the one that dropped the “A-bomb” last year, it’s only fair to see how well “accountability is working” when it comes to his 2014 assessment of the state of the Sunshine State.
He campaigned for and took office promising Florida’s economy would generate 700,000 new private-sector jobs in seven years of his stewardship, in addition to the million-plus jobs it would normally generate in that time frame – a total approaching two million new jobs.
In his speech, he said with pride of his first three years in office, “We have added more than 460,000 new private-sector jobs.”
In overall fact checking of the speech, Politifact Florida puts the actual figure at 406,000. Perhaps the governor mistakenly switched the six and the zero, who knows?
Scott went on to say, “Jobs are coming back. Career opportunities are growing. Home values are improving. And there is simply no reason that Florida cannot be the number one state in the country to find a good job, raise a family, and achieve the American Dream.”
He failed to account for why so many of the jobs “coming back” are temp jobs, theme park and fast food jobs, low and minimum wage jobs that don’t pay a living wage or offer any benefits. They’re dead-end jobs that so often prevent working families from being able to “achieve the American Dream”.
Nor did he account for study after study showing Florida’s middle class struggling mightily with income inequality, stagnant wages, reduced buying power, declining average household incomes and lack of upward mobility.
In taking credit for an improved housing market, the governor failed to account for signing a “fast track” foreclosure bill lobbied for by Big Banks and Big Real Estate, a law that throws struggling homeowners to the side of the road in short order.
In claiming there’s “no reason” Florida can’t be a top state for working families to achieve their dreams, he failed to account for his opposition to minimum wage increases and paid sick-leave ordinances that would help them do so.
Scott took credit for declining unemployment, but didn’t account for it being due in part to people abandoning job searches, with Florida’s chronic unemployment rate now second worst in America.
He also failed to account for Florida being one of the most difficult states in the nation to qualify for unemployment, with benefits among the stingiest and a disastrous new website rollout that made healthcare.gov look stellar.
The governor of course took pride in cutting taxes. But he didn’t account for cuts benefiting Big Business most; or for sales and property taxes paid by middle-class Floridians covering the massive cost of corporate tax “incentives” and outright evasion.
The very next line after that Kris Kristofferson lyric up top sums up what we can ensure is Rick Scott’s final State of the State speech as our governor…
“Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home”
A New York University graduate, Daniel Tilson owns a Boca Raton-based firm, Full Cup Media, offering “a la carte” and custom-bundled packages of communication services.