Gubernatorial Contenders Clash on the Economy

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: March 18, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist

The economy was front-and-center Monday in the increasingly contentious Florida gubernatorial race as Gov. Rick Scott announced Florida's unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent in January, the lowest it's been since June 2008.

Scott noted that more than 500,000 jobs had been created in Florida since he took over from former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination despite spending most of his political career as a Republican. Speaking at a media event in Orlando, Scott highlighted the unemployment rate dropping almost 2 percent last year, the largest drop of any state according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“With the steady increase in job creation and a 5 percentage point drop since December 2010 bringing the unemployment rate down to 6.1 percent, it is clear we’re making a positive impact on businesses and families in Florida," said Scott.

"We are creating an opportunity economy where businesses can continue to grow, and with more than 500,000 new private-sector jobs in Florida in just over three years the progress we have made is evident," Scott continued. "We have come a long way in three years, but let’s keep working to make sure every person who wants a job can have one.”

Jesse Panuccio, the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity stressed the same theme.

“With a 5-point drop in the statewide unemployment rate and more than 500,000 new private-sector jobs created since December 2010, we have another successful chapter in Florida’s economic turnaround story,” Panuccio said on Monday. “More Florida families are getting back to work across the state, and there is still more work to do to foster an opportunity economy for Florida’s present and future generations.”

But Crist’s team fired back with campaign spokesman Kevin Cate insisting Scott had promised to make 1.7 million jobs. Scott’s team insisted their policies would create 700,000 jobs over seven years during the 2010 campaign.

"Rick Scott’s 1.7 million jobs promise is failing because he handed a billion dollars in corporate tax breaks to his buddies for almost no jobs, while cutting education and training," Cate said on Monday. "He is still desperately attempting to take credit for a recovery that’s more anemic than what the economy was already predicted to do on its own."

The Florida Democratic Party also hit Scott on Monday, with Chairwoman Allison Tant attacking the governor for not supporting raising the minimum wage.

“Helping Florida working families succeed should be something we are all on board with ... right?” Tant asked supporters on Monday. “Rick Scott doesn't think so. In fact, talking about raising the minimum wage makes him ‘cringe!’

“His failed leadership is crushing Florida's struggling middle class families,” Tant added. “Instead of cheap political games, Scott needs to do the right thing and raise Florida's minimum wage.”

The Florida Democrats are currently gathering petitions urging Scott to raise the state minimum wage.

In the meantime, Scott’s team continues to take aim at Crist. Over the weekend, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) released an ad attacking Crist for defending President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

“Charlie Crist is the only candidate in America who is giving Obamacare the full embrace,” said Greg Blair, a spokesman for the Scott campaign. “Obamacare has already cancelled health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and raided Medicare at the expense of 1.3 million Florida seniors. Now the president has finally admitted that many Americans will lose their doctors as a result. It’s appropriate that this ad is the first of its kind because there’s no bigger cheerleader for Obamacare than Charlie Crist.”

Trying to catch Crist in the Democratic primary, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich is also throwing jabs, even as she unveiled a new endorsement. Rich won support from the National Organization for Women (NOW) over the weekend as she continues her underdog challenge for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November. Despite spending most of his career as a Republican, former Gov. Charlie Crist is leading Rich in polls of the Democratic primary.

“Today at the National Organization for Women brunch, national NOW President Terry O'Neill announced the endorsement of my campaign for governor by National NOW Inc.," Rich informed supporters on Saturday. “NOW members will work in Florida to elect me!

“Women are going to make the difference in this election and will make sure Rick Scott is a one-term governor,” Rich added.

Rich is increasingly trying to lump Scott and Crist together as she tries to win over Democratic primary voters. Over the weekend, she turned up the heat on both of them on education.

“Charlie Crist has been asking Democrats to support him because he says he’s better on education than Rick Scott,” Rich insisted on Saturday. “Actually, Charlie Crist tried to weaken Florida’s class size cap for public schools. He expanded vouchers for private, religious schools by tens of millions of dollars, he even threatened to withhold education funding from schools that used union payroll deduction funds for political purposes. When it comes to education, Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are more the same than they are different, and Florida deserves better.

“I’ve always believed public money should stay in public schools,” Rich added. “I believe education funding should be a priority for Florida every year, not just in election years. As governor, I’ll do what’s right for children, not big corporations.”

Rich is not the only dark-horse candidate going on the attack. While Scott cheered the news that Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent for January, his Libertarian rival isn’t buying it.

Adrian Wyllie went after Scott on Monday, insisting the lower unemployment rate means nothing.

“The number of working Floridians has decreased dramatically on his (Gov. Scott’s) watch, and his lackluster policies have directly resulted in thousands of lost jobs in Florida,” Wyllie insisted on Monday. “Florida’s labor participation rate has fallen from the 25-year average of 62.4 percent, down to 59.6 percent, according to the Florida Legislature Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

“It’s easy to tout positive unemployment numbers when you stop counting the 441,859 Floridians who have given up hope of finding work,” Wyllie added. “Take a stand for putting people back to work -- not taking them out of the equation!”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (8)

Scott Can't Vote out CC
10:59AM MAR 19TH 2014
Martin Resident, Rick Scott can't stand up to Jeb Bush and his Common Core. The Bush machine owns Rick Scott, lock, stock and barrel. When do you think that $70 Million so called personal bucks come from that Scott bought the governor's office with? Remember he is such a "patrioRat" that he works for $1 a year! A lot of thet $70 Million come from the leftovers of the Medicare Fraud funds that Rick Scott and Jeb Bush picked up from the remnants of Jeb's operations with Miguel Recarey and the (IMC) INternational Medical Centers. With the help of George W. and Rick Scott's Richard Rainwater and Tom Hicks connection's Rick Scott and Jeb Bush walked away "scot free" Miguel Recarey on the other hand is still a fugitive from "just us."

Rick Scott will do what Jeb Bush and the globalists tell him to do or they will replaced him with a bigger pile of excrement. (Which might be CharLIE Crist, who knows party don't mean a thing to the Bush machine)
2:06PM MAR 18TH 2014
Who was expecting 1.7 million jobs in 3 years? Gov promised to create 700,000 in 7 years above what would have been created otherwise. With how anemic the economy was when he took office, we were wondering when ANY jobs would be created. I would say 500K in 3 years is a good start. We are not even half way there, time wise.

Regarding labor force participation, of course that dropped. With 11%+ unemployment, people stopped moving here to find jobs; so the only people moving here were those who were retiring. When you add retirees to the population labor force participation falls. No big mystery there.

Regarding education cuts, he cut when there was no money available; he couldn't spend money he didn't have. Now that the economy is growing, and producing more revenue, he puts more funding into education. It's simple math, not election year politics.

Minimum wage goes up every year, as the FL constitutional amendment says. If you don't like the minimum wage, don't blame gov, he can't change it. Blame those who drafted the amendment.

Whatever you think of the gov; honestly, you have to admit that he is making progress on the economy.
Independent Thinker
2:17PM MAR 22ND 2014
No, Srbbusi. Scott promised 1.7 million after being told that economists predicted 1 million jobs would be added no matter who was governor. So he added his 700K promise to that 1 million. His exact words:

"It's what's projected, yeah. It's what's projected, yeah," Scott said, nodding. "It's on top of that. If you do these things we're going to grow 700,000 more jobs."


"Our plan is seven steps to 700,000 jobs, and that plan is on top of what normal growth would be," Scott said.

Please don't lay out that nonsense about "wondering when ANY jobs would be created." No economy can be that stagnate. People did NOT stop moving here to find jobs; our population has continued to grow, from 18.8 million in 2010 to 19.5 million now. Some of those are kids or retirees, but there's no way the bulk of them are.

You're uncritically accepting here Rebecca Rust's attempt to salvage this debacle by Scott. But tellingly, Rust provided only speculation and no hard numbers (e.g., number of retirees in Florida) to back up this point. And clearly, she either cannot or will not quantify that number or give us a measure of the true impact of retirement on the workforce participation rate.

At the same time: Many of those retirements were forced: People told that they could either retire, or be laid off; the vast majority of retirees come from other states, which means that although they may lower our workforce participation rate, this also means that the more Rust attributes this to retirees, the more it also indicates stagnation in the employment of working Floridians. That, in fact, coheres far better with Florida's horrible long-term unemployment rate.

Further, migration to Florida by retirees has been part of the state's history for a very long time. If what Rust says is true, then our workforce participation rate should almost always have been low.

And this: Boston College's Center on Aging and Work analyzes data in this regard and showed that in 2008, 28.1% of Florida's population was over 55, and of that group, up to age 64, 56.8% were employed. Not all "retirees" leave the workforce!

Your mystery remains unsolved.

Cutting money he didn't have? He cut from a budget that was already balanced, and salted the surplus away. It's election year politics, plain and simple. So is giving back the tag fees now instead of three years ago.

Scott hasn't done a thing for the economy. No state governor has that much power. The real credit goes to the hard working people of this nation who have kept working in spite of what Scott and other crooks like him have done to them.
2:27PM MAR 28TH 2014
"Not all 'retirees' leave the workforce!"? Are you kidding?

Of course, not all people above age 55 are retired. But retirees are retired. That's why we call them "retirees". Yes, some of them get jobs in retirement; but that is a much lower percentage, and lowers labor force participation.

Before the Great Recession, people moving to FL fell mostly into two groups: 1) retirees, and 2) those looking for jobs. When the recession hit, both groups dried up. The first group were unable to sell their homes, so they could not move to FL. The second group stopped coming because they knew that there were no jobs here.

When the economy finally bottomed, retirees were able to sell their homes up north, and resumed the flow down to FL. The second group has not yet restarted their migration, because there still aren't enough jobs here.

The first group lowers labor force participation, and has been returning for a few years now. The second group raises labor force participation, but has not yet resumed their flow. The result: lower labor force participation. It is that simple.

We don't have good, year-to-year stats on retirees moving here vs workers moving here; so yes, this is speculative. But without stats, all we have is speculation. At least this is sensible speculation.

I read your quote, but I still didn't see anything about 1.7 million. There was a time back around 2010 when we were watching the jobs report each month, surprised that there was still no indication that the job losses where slowing. It was like when you're on a roller coaster and you see the track disappear a few feet ahead, and you wonder when you will see that does bottom out.

Yes, there were forecasts of 1 million new jobs, but those were more hopeful than confident. More than 1 million jobs every decade was almost guaranteed, before the Great Recession. Forecasters didn't know anything else to do, but to forecast more of the same.

We had seen nothing like it since before WWII. We knew that it would take a long time to see the economy come around. In fact, nationally, we are still waiting. There are a few pockets - like SD, TX and FL - that are doing well; but for the most part, the US economy is stagnant. SD and TX are doing well because of oil, and other energy resources. But that is not the reason FL is doing well.

Clearly, what Rick Scott is doing is working.
10:22AM MAR 18TH 2014
Yes, yes, the Governor must be right once again --> "With the steady increase in job creation and a 5 percentage point drop since December 2010" . . . . . . Hmmm . . . that must mean the unemployment rate in Florida in December 2010 was 11.1% . . . . . . anyone want to believe that factoid . . . . seems just a tad too great (i.e. 10X too high) . . . . . . GOP math skills and understanding . . . . . absolutely . . .

Pathetic . . . .
1:45PM MAR 18TH 2014
Yes, the unemployment rate was 11.1% in December of 2010. You can look that up at myflorida.com . Maybe GOP math skills are not so bad as you think.
6:52PM MAR 18TH 2014
Good for you . . . for once I stand corrected on actual data . . .
Martin Resident
6:41AM MAR 18TH 2014
I think the gov should grow some and vote out Common Core. That would certainly give him the credibility that he is searching for.

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