July 23, 2014

Nan Rich faces Truth-O-Meter on economy, taxes

PolitiFact Florida fact-checked two claims by Nan Rich, a Democratic candidate for governor, from statements she made to the Florida Press Association July 11.

Rich said, "tourism and retirees are the dominant economic engines in our state."

We didn’t find a simple way to quantify whether tourism and retirees are the dominant economic engine in Florida, but a combination of statistical data and expert analysis suggests that both are important engines, and possibly too important, due to the low-wage jobs they bring.

We rated this claim Mostly True.

Rich also said that there is evidence that Florida has "the third most-regressive tax base," though she acknowledged when she spoke she wasn’t certain if she had the number right.

She was close: A study placed Florida No. 2 in terms of its regressive tax base.

Florida has a regressive tax base because we lack a state income tax. Though the Tax Foundation criticized the report, it didn’t dispute the states’ rankings, and other experts we interviewed also had no qualms about Florida’s placement.

Rich’s number of third place was just a smidgen low, so we rated this claim Mostly True.

Charlie Crist announces 2nd TV spot, attacks Scott on school spending

@MarcACaputo

A day after the Republican Party released a Spanish-language ad touting Gov. Rick Scott's school-spending recording, Democrat Charlie Crist hit back by announcing his second English-language spot that draws attention to the education budget on Scott's watch.

Overall, the spot -- like the RPOF ad -- appears accurate. The education budget was reduced $1.3 billion under Scott (because of the federal stimulus money flameout) and PolitiFact Florida found that per-student education spending was slightly higher under Crist when adjusted for inflation.

But then Crist veers into hyperbole.

"Rick Scott's education cuts are closing that door on Florida's kids," Crist says. Then he pivots from talking per-pupil spending to higher-education scholarships called "Bright Futures," which Crist says were "cut in half."

But not on a per-student spending basis. Based on each recipient, Bright Future awards are about 2,086, which is an increase from Scott's first 2011-12 budget but a decrease of $2,364 under Crist's last budget in 2010-11.

In overall spending and student population, Bright Futures declined from about 180,000 recipients and $423 million under Crist's FY11 budget to 128,000 students for a total of $266 million.

Either way, it's not in half. And Crist made some cuts to Bright Futures as did Scott.

 

But going forward, Crist might have more of a point.

State data show that the number of newly eligible students (that is, high-school graduates) fell from 41,000 in 2012-13 to slightly more than 21,000 in 2013-14 as the new requirements -- largely passed under Scott and the GOP Legislature -- began to take hold. That’s a 48 percent drop.

Crist tinkered with Bright Futures in a different fashion. He agreed to tuition hikes (halted by Scott in an election year), which made part of the bill for college not covered by Bright Futures.

But the changes approved by Scott and Legislature are expected to have some dramatic impacts, especially on minorities qualifying for it. FSU's interim president recently said at the last trustees meeting that the changes were going to have a big impact at the university.

Let's also not forget that the Legislature appropriates, so it gets it's share of the credit or blame.

Crist's ad is potentially effective because he's talking direct to camera -- instead of using surrogates -- and the commercial initially seems positive in style. But then, voters respond more to negative ads. And people who hate Crist think anything with him is awful (ditto the opposite for Scott ads).

 

DOH schedules second workshop on medical pot rules

@tbtia

The second workshop on the state's proposed rule to implement new medical marijuana laws will be held Aug. 1.

The rule carries out Senate Bill 1030, the so-called "Charlotte's Web" bill, passed by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott this spring. A second draft addressing issues raised at the first standing-room only workshop will be publicized by the end of the week.

The law the Legislature approved authorizes five nurseries in Florida to cultivate and distribute marijuana for a limited number of ailments and medical issues. The Department of Health has proposed a lottery system in each region to give all eligible participants -- including at least 41 growers that have operated consistently for 30 years -- equal opportunity to win.

Critics at the first rule hearing said a lottery would ignore the quality of services and experiences offered by various nurseries and urged the DOH to rethink that portion of the rule.

Florida became the 22nd state to legalize a form of marijuana for medical purposes and the 11th to authorize strains low in TCH, the chemical that causes a feeling of getting high. However, in November Florida voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would expand the use of medical marijuana for more general illnesses.

Click here to visit the DOH's Office of Compassionate Use site that outlines the process of implementing SB 1030.

Q-Poll: Crist over Scott 39-37%; Libertarian Wyllie has big 9% impact

@MarcACaputo

From a Quinnipiac University press release:

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott trails former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, by a narrow 45 – 40 percent margin in a two-way race. When Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is added to the mix, the race is too close to call, with 39 percent for Crist, 37 percent for Scott and 9 percent for Wyllie, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 48 – 38 percent Crist lead in a head-to-head matchup without Wyllie in an April 30 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Today, Scott leads former State Sen. Nan Rich 41 – 34 percent in a two-way race.

Wyllie gets his strongest support from independent voters who back Crist over Scott 45 – 38 percent in a two-way matchup, but split with 36 percent for Crist and 34 percent for Scott, with 12 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way race.

Republicans back Scott 79 – 12 percent in the two-way, and 74 – 9 percent, with 5 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way. Democrats go from 78 – 10 percent for Crist in the two-way to 73 – 9 percent, with 6 percent for Wyllie.

Florida voters give Scott a negative 43 – 48 percent approval rating, one of his best scores in almost four years in office, and a negative 40 – 45 percent favorability rating.

Crist gets a split rating, 40 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable.

For Wyllie, 92 percent don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

“The campaign to be Florida’s next governor tightens slightly and takes on a new dimension with a third candidate in the running,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is not, at this point, a serious contender to win the governorship. But he may have a great deal to say about who does win.”

“Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie, but there are a lot of Floridians who aren’t keen on either of the major party candidates, Gov. Rick Scott or former Gov. Charlie Christ,” Brown added.

Gov. Scott does not deserve to be reelected, Florida voters say 51 – 40 percent.

Both candidates get low grades for character:

More here

July 22, 2014

SurveyUSA/WFLA poll: Charlie Crist pulls ahead of Rick Scott 46-40%

@MarcACaputo

Democrat Charlie Crist has jumped ahead of Gov. Rick Scott, leading the Republican 46-40 percent among likely voters in the SurveyUSA latests governor's race tracking poll conducted for WFLA.

Crist's 6 percentage point lead is the largest he has had in the firm's poll track and represents a significant 8-point shift in the race since SurveyUSA's last poll released July 3. Then, Scott led by an inside-the-error margin amount of 2 percentage points.

Three factors are at play: Scott's horrendous week, where numerous TV stations featured Scott ducking the most-basic of questions; new ad buys from Crist and Democrats promoting him and tearing at Scott; and Crist's decision to pick Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Annette Taddeo as his running mate on Thursday -- which just happened to coincide with the first day of the five-day poll, said Jay Leve, SurveyUSA's editor.

"The news after-glow for Crist has continued for about five days," Leve said.

Essentially, the race has reset in SurveyUSA's poll track. It's first poll for WFLA, on April 15, had Crist leading Scott 46-41. See the chart below.

Scott clawed ahead by spending more than $12 million in unanswered TV ads. Scott's ad spending, along with the Republican Party of Florida's, now exceeds $16 million. But Crist and the Florida Democratic Party have run and placed nearly $3 million in ads since early June.

Assuming Scott stops the unforced errors and Crist doesn't continue to rack up major favorable news coverage, Leve said, he expects the race to settle back to a near tie. This Crist surge aside, SurveyUSA did have another, less explicable one in early June, before the Crist-FDP ads began.

We'll know more about how these latest numbers stack up tomorrow morning when Quinnipiac University releases its Florida poll.

SurveyUSA

Rick Scott agency sues Digital Domain in $20 million deal linked to Charlie Crist

Associated Press:

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — The state of Florida has filed a lawsuit seeking to recoup millions of taxpayer dollars provided to the failed Digital Domain film visual effects company.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the Department of Economic Opportunity in St. Lucie County Circuit Court against Digital Domain Media Group and a number of other entities. Digital Domain had promised to create about 500 jobs at a Port St. Lucie animation studio and a West Palm Beach film school, but it filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

The lawsuit contends Digital Domain defrauded the state out of $20 million in seed money by misrepresenting its debt problems and other allegedly fraudulent acts. The company also got $62 million in funding from St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties.

Its shutdown resulted in 280 layoffs.

Here's the lawsuit, which mentions Gov. Rick Scott's Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, repeatedly because the deal was allegedly approved with the Democrat's knowledge:  Download Digital-Domain-Complaint

To close cash-gap with Scott, Crist to rely on $1m -- and counting -- from taxpayers

@stevebousquet

Democrat Charlie Crist says he can't raise nearly as much money as Republican Gov. Rick Scott, but he can close the gap thanks to a big subsidy from Florida taxpayers.

Crist soon will get his first infusion of millions in campaign cash under the state's public campaign financing program, created to help low-budget candidates counter big-money opponents as long as they abide by a self-imposed spending cap of about $25 million.

Candidates for governor and three Cabinet offices who agree to limit spending by their own campaigns are eligible for matching money. The state matches contributions of $250 or less from Florida residents, and Crist has far more small donors than Scott.

Crist says more than 30,000 people have donated $100 or less to his campaign. Larger donations are also matched up to $250 each.

"I think it's a good idea, because the public needs to be involved in our government, our democracy," Crist said at a campaign stop in Tampa on Saturday.

Continue reading "To close cash-gap with Scott, Crist to rely on $1m -- and counting -- from taxpayers" »

RPOF's new ad trifecta: Spanish-speaking women teachers praise Rick Scott over education

@MarcACaputo

The Republican Party of Florida's newest ad is straight out of public-opinion polling heaven, featuring Spanish-speaking female teachers who laud Gov. Rick Scott's education record and the teacher raises he secured.

“Florida students are better off due to Scott,” says one of the women in the ad, identified only as a teacher named “Betty.”

The GOP announced the $300,000 ad buy, which includes online and TV spots, just days after Crist tapped the Spanish-speaking head of Miami-Dade’s Democratic Party, Annette Taddeo. 

Though polls indicate Scott is competitive with Crist in courting the Hispanic vote, the Democrat bests him in support from women, who comprise a bigger segment of the likely-voter electorate.

 Scott's lieutenant governor and running mate, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is also Hispanic and hails from Miami-Dade. And the governor invested early in Spanish-language ads, running about $1 million worth, mostly in Miami’s media market. RPOF has announced three Spanish-language and two English-language ads and has spent at least $1 million.

Gender and ethnicity aside, both campaigns are focusing heavily on education.

Crist is making much of Scott's mammoth $1.3 billion cuts to the state's education budget his first year in office helped tank his then-weak poll numbers, which have taken years to recover. PolitiFact found that per-pupil spending under Crist has exceeded Scott's figure when adjusted for inflation.

But the teachers identified in Scott’s ads say the governor isn’t getting credit for the $480 million in teacher bonuses he pushed for and the $18.9 billion education budget he signed.

"In the last two years I’ve seen that the resources for the classroom have greatly improved,” another teacher named “Maritza” adds. “There is more technology in the classroom.”

A third woman, identified as “Elisa” then says “they can repeat all the falsehoods they want, the facts don’t lie.”

The supposed “falsehoods” and who “they” are isn’t clear, however the Republican Party press release accompanying the announcement of the $300,000 online and TV ad buy attributes two misleading statements to Leslie Dougher, the state GOP chair.

Dougher’s statement claims that, under Democrat Charlie Crist, “state education funding was slashed by nearly $1.4 billion, funding was cut for voluntary pre-kindergarten programs, and 3,000 Florida teachers were laid off.”

In a previous fact check of another Scott ad, PolitiFact Florida rated the 3,000-teacher-layoff claim “mostly false,” partly due to the reliance on unverified and anecdotal data.

As for the $1.4 billion “slashed” under Crist, Dougher fails to point out that Crist pushed a recalcitrant GOP-led Legislation to accept roughly $1.7 billion in federal stimulus money over two years. Factoring in the stimulus money and education spending was reduced overall by $524 million during Crist’s term as governor, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Also unmentioned: the federal stimulus money is credited, in state studies for helping preserve 19,000 jobs of school-board employees throughout the state.

Ironically, Scott bashed the stimulus as wasteful but then blamed the Obama Administration for not sending Florida more money when the federal money ran out, leading to the $1.3 billion in education cuts that Crist now blasts Scott for.

The Ad:

CHYRON: Maritza, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Maritza, Teacher

MARITZA: Me gusta ser maestra de educación especial porque mucha gente no ven el potencial de esos estudiantes.

MARITZA TRANSLATED: I like being a special education teacher because many people don’t see the potential of those students.

CHYRON: Elisa, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Elisa, Teacher

ELISA: Es una profesión bien dedicada.

ELISA TRANSLATED: It’s a profession of great dedication.

CHYRON: Regla, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Regla, Teacher

REGLA: Muchas personas no sabe que Rick Scott logro el aumento de sueldo de maestras.

REGLA TRANSLATED: Many people don’t know that Rick Scott achieved an increase in pay for teachers.

MARTIZA: En los últimos dos años he visto que los recursos en la clase han mejorado mucho. Hay mas tecnologia para la clase.

MARITZA TRANSLATED: In the last two years I’ve seen that the resources for the classroom have greatly improved. There is more technology in the classroom.

ELISA: Con Rick Scott han aumentado los fondos para la educación pre-escolar y para mí eso es muy importante.

ELISA TRANSLATED: With Rick Scott there are more funds for pre-school education and that’s very important to me.

CHYRON: Betty, Maestra

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Betty, Teacher

BETTY: Los estudiantes de la Florida están mejor debido a Scott.

BETTY TRANSLATED: Florida students are better off due to Scott.

ELISA: Pueden repetir todas la falsedades que quieran pero los hechos no mienten.

ELISA TRANSLATED: They can repeat all the falsehoods they want, the facts don’t lie.

CHYRON: Anuncio político pagado por el Partido Republicano de la Florida, 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida32301. El Partido Republicano de la Florida apoya y le pide a usted que vote por Rick Scott para Gobernador, Jeanette Nunez para Representante Estatal Distrito 119, y José Félix Díaz para Representante Estatal Distrito 116.

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Paid political advertisement paid for by the Republican Party of Florida, 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL32301. The Republican Party of Florida endorses and urges you to vote for Rick Scott for Governor, Jeanette Nunez for State Representative District 119, and Jose Felix Diaz for State Representative District 116.

Web ad smacks Scott on dodging questions

@AdamSmithTimes

This new web ad from the Florida Democratic party might inflict real damage on Rick Scott's re-election campaign if the party had enough money to air it on actual TV.

From the Democrats: "Scott’s failure to answer questions is shameful and disrespectful to voters trying to understand where their governor stands on the issues facing Florida. This is exactly why Floridians have never trusted Rick Scott, and why they will fire him in November.

"We’re launching a new web ad today, featuring footage of Rick Scott’s infamous 1995 deposition. The ad is backed by paid digital advertising, including on Facebook and YouTube."

July 21, 2014

Scott's fundraiser comedy gold for HBO's John Oliver

@mikevansickler

Gov. Rick Scott tempted the comedy gods with his latest choice of fundraisers.

And, as Sunday night’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” proved, the comedy gods show no mercy.

Not with the material Scott gave them Monday night.

 

Scott attended a $10,000 per person fundraiser at the home of George Zoley, the president of Geo Group of Boca Raton. Geo is the the second-largest private prison company in the U.S. with $1.5 billion in annual revenue.

Geo has been the subject of much unflattering attention lately. There was the Mother Jones story on Friday detailing all sorts of problems at Geo facilities, like the hunger strike at the immigration detention center in Broward County that was protesting overcrowding and high costs, and the students and faculty at Florida Atlantic University who successfully protested against the stadium getting named after the GEO Group.

Zoley, who was netting between $22 million from the GEO Group between 2008 and 2012, has become a big supporter of Scott’s. Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s reelection campaign, has accepted $415,000 from Geo Group and its affiliate, Geo Care.

Monday night’s fundraiser posed a fat target for the comedy writers at HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”, which has quickly become the buzziest comedy show on TV.

Continue reading "Scott's fundraiser comedy gold for HBO's John Oliver" »