Recently, Gov. Rick Scott delivered his fourth “State of the State Address,” titled “Destination Opportunity.” It should be called “State of Delusion.” For the rosy picture he painted of the debacle of his years in office, he would have flunked a lie detector test. Here are some of the governor’s claims translated into the truth:
The governor said: In 2010, when he was elected, “like Washington, Florida’s economy was driven into the ground by spending what some embraced as ‘free money’ . . . Florida’s big spending racked up big debt. Florida was in a hole. Unemployment was above 11 percent. More than one million people were unemployed.”
The truth: Scott’s take on the economy is contrary to that of every credible economist in the world. He’s trying to fool people into believing that there was no global recession, the world economy was not on the verge of total collapse, and the downturn in the Florida economy was Charlie Crist’s fault.
The governor said: “We could have kept embracing spending and debt — but we didn’t. We could have kept growing government and expecting our challenges to solve themselves — but we didn’t. We had two options — we could take the usual way out by raising taxes and running up more debt . . . or we could do the politically hard thing and trim our budget.”
The truth: He and the Republican-dominated Legislature gutted social programs that benefit the needy and did little or nothing to help the middle class, but enacted programs and legislation that disproportionately benefit businesses and the richest Floridians, on the discredited premise that what’s good for the prosperous trickles down to the poor.
The governor said: “Four years ago people were down on Florida. High unemployment. Shrinking home values. Florida was in retreat. For the first time in decades, more people left the state of Florida than moved in from other states. Now, we are on the rise. Jobs are coming back.”
The truth: The governor makes the outlandish claim his economic magic wand cured Florida’s economy, which is actually still languishing. He denies that federal stimulus dollars and the policies of the Federal Reserve had anything to do with the state’s drop in unemployment and the overall improvement in the economy during the recent economic crisis.
The governor said: “We cut taxes 24 times.”
The truth: He cut taxes, to be sure, but primarily for businesses, not average working men and women. See details at Politifact.com.
The governor said: “We are again proposing to invest record amounts in our K-12 education system.”
The truth: He and the Republican-dominated Legislature have continued to gut public schools by vastly increasing the number of charter schools and vouchers. And whatever monies they now appropriate for public schools don’t make up for drastic cuts in previous years.
The governor said: “I am proud that all of Florida’s four-year state colleges now offer bachelor’s degrees for only $10,000. These degrees aren’t just affordable — they are also geared toward high-demand job fields so students are prepared to start a great career when they graduate.”
The truth: Politifact.com rated his claim Mostly False and added, “the schools . . . have accepted a challenge from Scott to offer $10,000 degrees, but only about half currently do. Also, there are several other caveats as to who can get a cheap degree and in what major. Lastly, the $10,000 degree doesn’t cover books, housing, meals, fees and other expenses.”
The governor said: “When we set out to jump start our economy four years ago, we talked about creating 700,000 jobs in seven years.”
The truth: The governor talked alright, but he wants you to forget that he promised to create 700,000 jobs on top of the number that would have been created anyway — and he knows he’ll never accomplish that.
The governor said: “We believe Florida is the best place to raise a family.”
The truth: He and Florida Republicans have fought Obamacare without offering a credible, alternative plan of their own, which puts every man, woman, and child at health and financial risk, and makes Florida one of the worst states for raising a family.
If the governor gets to deliver a fifth “State of the State Address,” it should be titled “Fooled You Twice, Shame on You.” For though Rick Scott’s truth is stranger than fiction, Floridians would either be guilty of not knowing the difference — or not caring.
Stephen L. Goldstein is the author of “The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit” and “Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned.” He lives in Fort Lauderdale. Column courtesy of Context Florida.