Many of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s ideas unveiled today in his “Fair Shot Florida” plan to grow middle class jobs were familiar campaign talking points.
“Today I’m here to talk about the first part of my plan to expand Florida’s middle class, help small businesses grow and create jobs and build an economy that works for everyone not only those at the top: it’s called Fair Shot Florida. I call it that because too many families in Florida today -- small businesses as well -- are not getting a fair share under Rick Scott.”
Crist criticized Gov. Rick Scott for rejecting billions of federal dollars for high-speed rail expansion and for the state’s failure to expand Medicaid.
Expanding Medicaid “will create as many as 120,000 new high quality jobs,” Crist said at his policy announcement in Fort Lauderdale this afternoon.
PolitiFact previously fact-checked Crist when he said "Expanding Medicaid would create 63k jobs.” PolitiFact rated that claim Half True. The 63,000 figure comes from a White House study chastising states such as Florida for failing to expand Medicaid. The Florida Hospital Association’s most recent analysis in 2013 predicts 120,000 jobs over about a decade -- the association supports expansion. Meanwhile, Moody’s predicted between 10,000 and 30,000 jobs. Most of the health care experts we interviewed agreed that injecting billions of federal dollars into Florida for Medicaid would spark some job growth, but it’s difficult to pinpoint a number, particularly as there are other changes in the healthcare landscape.
PolitiFact Florida gave Scott a Full Flop on Medicaid expansion. Scott initially opposed Medicaid expansion but later said he supported but didn’t advocate for it and the Legislature rejected it.
Much of Crist’s plan focused on his promises to restore education cuts under Scott. Crist promised if elected he would return per pupil K-12 funding to $7,126 -- the amount in 2007-08 when Crist was governor.
Crist also promised to reverse Scott’s cuts to Bright Futures.
But both Crist and Scott oversaw changes to Bright Futures that laid the groundwork for fewer students to get the college scholarships. The reason that the Legislature under both governors tightened SAT requirements, leading to fewer scholarships, was to reduce the exponential cost of the program.
Crist promised to expand eligibility so that 180,000 students will get the scholarships -- 50,000 more than predicted for this year.
“It will cost at least $190 million, but Charlie believes it’s an essential part of undoing Rick Scott’s cuts to education,” his written plan stated.
When asked by a reporter how he would pay for that Crist wasn’t specific but pointed to the state’s almost $3 billion surplus.
Crist was asked by a reporter to respond to a comment by Scott campaign chairman Sen. John Thrasher that the state lost 832,000 jobs during Crist’s tenure and unemployment tripled.
Crist said that was “trash talk” by his opponent and that he didn’t cause for the global economic meltdown.
PolitiFact Florida previously rated a similar statement by Scott about job losses and unemployment under Crist as Half True. While Scott has correctly cited the numbers economists have repeatedly said that Crist didn’t cause the recession which was largely as a result of the housing market crisis.
Some of Crist’s policy ideas lacked specifics including dollar figures; for example he called for expanding career and technical education programs at community colleges. He also called for loan forgiveness for students in high-demand fields and a student loan finance authority to help students refinance their debt. Crist also said he would provide free tuition for teachers who get master’s degrees in STEM subjects.
Crist’s press event coincided with Scott’s tour this week about the environment. Crist briefly touched on the environment saying that Florida should take steps to grow businesses including “investing in high-tech industry like renewable energy and our space program.”
When a tracker tried to ask a question about Crist's residency in St. Petersburg, Crist campaign staffers shut down the question and answer session and said it was only for credentialed media.
Crist held the event at Axis Space Coworking in Fort Lauderdale, a business that provides shared office space to small businesses. Crist has several appearances in Broward this week: he met with the Sun-Sentinel editorial board earlier today, opens a Coral Springs campaign office tonight and opens a campaign office on Sistrunk Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale tomorro