August 05, 2016

What the governor is not saying about Florida's economy: It's falling farther behind

Florida GDP


  A news release out today from Gov. Rick Scott touts Florida's as "beating the national GDP growth rate of 1.2 percent" and outpacing the nation "in economic growth." 

Indeed the state's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 2.1 percent annualized in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the nation's which is at 1.9 percent.

But what the governor is not saying: the reason the fast-growth numbers are even happening is because Florida has so far to go to catch up to the national average. 

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which posts quarterly and annual GDP data for the United States, Florida’s GDP rate was the 10th fastest growing GDP in the nation in the first quarter of 2016, behind Arkansas, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, New Hampshire, Arizona, Utah and Massachusetts.

Gross domestic product, or GDP, is a key way to measure economic growth. It is the sum total of a state's economic activity and it is important because it includes includes the wages and salaries that workers earn as well as the income earned by individual entrepreneurs and by corporations. 

When you consider the growth of the GDP compared to the growth of the state's population, Florida has lagged behind the national GDP average for years. But rather than remain stable or narrow since the recession, the gap is widening. The only conclusion is: Florida's is falling farther and farther behind the rest of the nation. 

Between 2003 and 2015, Florida's per capita GDP dropped from $40,368 to $38,950, according to the BEA data. By comparison, the national average per capita GDP increased from $45,858 in 2003 to $49,844 in 2015 -- despite the recession. During that time, the gap between Florida's per capital GDP and the nation's doubled. And since Scott took office, Florida has dropped 18 percent more behind the national average in 2015, than it was in 2010. 

These GDP gaps between the national average and Florida's occurred during the time both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist were governor. But, while Florida's GDP had been improving until 2006, the numbers show the gap has widened dramatically since then. Here's the data, from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Florida Per Capita Gross Domestic Product





























United States




























Source: U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis

In 2003, the gap between the national GDP and the state's was $5,490 per person but, since then, even as parts of Florida’s economy recovered, the per capita GDP has declined. The number inched slightly upward in 2012 and 2013, but the gap between Florida and the U.S. average has nonetheless widened steeply and now Florida's GDP per person is $10,894 below the national average. That's a big drop, even with inflation.

The governor told the Republican convention that the national "economy is not growing." PolitiFact rated that false, noting the U.S. has seen GDP has grow every year since 2010, between 1.5 and 2.5 percent a year. Florida's has risen too, since 2011, but the amount of goods and services produced in Florida continues to lag behind many other states and the national average. 

Here's how the BEA defines its GDP measure: "an industry's GDP by state, or its value added, in practice, is calculated as the sum of incomes earned by labor and capital and the costs incurred in the production of goods and services. That is, it includes the wages and salaries that workers earn, the income earned by individual or joint entrepreneurs as well as by corporations, and business taxes such as sales, property, and Federal excise taxes—that count as a business expense."

Here's the governor's press release: 

Continue reading "What the governor is not saying about Florida's economy: It's falling farther behind" »

August 04, 2016

In Wynwood, politicians point fingers over Zika funding


@alextdaugherty @ESCochrane @PatriciaMazzei

The Zika virus arrived in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood last week. The politicians came Thursday.

Rick Scott dismisses question about Trump's struggle with 'the Zika'

via @ESCochrane

In his tour de Zika in Miami on Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott got one question about Donald Trump's apparent lack of fluency when it comes to the mosquito-borne virus. Trump memorably referred to it as "the Zika."

A Miami Herald reporter asked Scott in Doral about Trump's Wednesday interview with the West Palm Beach CBS affiliate. The Republican presidential nominee struggled to articulate a position on whether Congress should convene an emergency session to fund virus prevention.

The Republican governor, who has backed Trump, didn't seem to give it much importance.

"We have a choice between two people for president," Scott said. "I have a choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I ran in 2010 on jobs. Donald Trump knows how to create jobs.

"Hillary Clinton," he added, "has never created a job in her life."


Rick Scott tours Wynwood, Miami's Ground Zero for Zika outbreak


via @alextdaugherty

Gov. Rick Scott zigzagged around Wynwood Thursday morning, talking with local business owners about what the state can do to combat the spread of Zika. He visited Miami Under Ground coffee shop and startup company LiveNinja HQ, among others.

Scott was displeased that Congress has not reconvened in Washington to fund Zika prevention.

"The president and Congress have to figure out how to work together," Scott said. "I have to work with my Legislature if I want to get anything done. This is a national, international issue and I think the federal government has failed us."

Scott did not acknowledge the funding issues that Miami-Dade mosquito control has faced, saying that "we have very successful mosquito control around the state."

"If you look at what we've done with dengue fever, Chikungunya, we've stopped the local transmission of those," Scott said. "We're going to do the same thing with this. We have good mosquito control and good county health departments that are working well together."

More here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Gov. Scott makes first trip to Miami after local Zika outbreak


Gov. Rick Scott is in Miami today, his first trip to South Florida since the state confirmed Zika is being spread there by mosquitoes.

He'll meet with members of Miami-Dade's congressional delegation, as well as public health officials. And Scott will visit Wynwood, the arts district north of downtown Miami where the state Department of Health believes Zika continues to spread.

Thirteen of 15 locally transmitted Zika infections are linked to Wynwood, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned pregnant women to avoid the area if at all possible.

The governor's office announced his schedule around 9:45 a.m., after the first event began.

He tweeted this morning that he had breakfast in Wynwood at Zak the Baker.

Eating breakfast at Zak the Baker in Wynwood.

— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) August 4, 2016

Here's what Scott is up to:

9:30 a.m.: Visit to the Wynwood community

Noon: Briefing with members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

12:45 p.m.: Visit to the Miami-Dade health department

2:30 p.m.: Briefing with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

3:30 p.m.: Press conference at the Emergency Operations Center

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who lives in Miami, will not take part in the governor's Zika events. According to the schedule, he is in Sanford this afternoon and returns to South Florida in the evening to celebrate the retirement of Dr. Rolando Montoya, provost at Miami Dade College.

-- With reporting from Times/Herald staff writer Steve Bousquet

PolitiFact: Gwen Graham says Rick Scott boasts about low wages


A Donald Trump presidency would be as bad for America as Gov. Rick Scott has been for Florida, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham said to delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

At a Florida delegation breakfast on July 28, Graham compared the Republican presidential nominee to former businessman Scott, saying they were both from the "con-man wing" of the GOP. She said Scott has stunted Florida’s economy by keeping it a low-wage state.

"After six years, we’re now the third most populous state, but we rank 38th in wages," said Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham. "Scott's actually proud of how low they are. He goes out around the country and advertises that to other states."

We wondered if Floridians really earned so little, and whether Scott was so proud of low wages that he was using it as a selling point for other states. We found Graham was tripped up by details for both parts of this claim.

Keep reading Joshua Gillin's fact-check here.

Photo by AP

August 02, 2016

Super PAC led by Rick Scott backs Trump with Florida TV ads

via @learyreports

Rebuilding America Now, the super PAC chaired by Gov. Rick Scott, is now up on the air in Florida with two TV ads supporting Donald Trump.

Melissa Stone, a spokewoman for the group, says the ads are running statewide. The group did not reveal how much money is behind the spots. But a news release said Hillary Clinton's campaign sought to have the outsourcing ad, also running in Ohio and Pennsylvania, taken down.

“Hillary made this stand against keeping jobs in America while speaking to a group in India. Then the Clinton Foundation collected a million dollars from a businessman who attended her speech," Scott is quoted as saying. "Those are the facts that Hillary does not want anyone to see. So, she is trying to have our ad disappear like her emails did. She wants TV stations to pull it off the air."



--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times


Sutphin promoted to run Department of Vets' Affairs

Glenn Sutphin Jr. was the unanimous and predictable choice of Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet Tuesday to be the new executive director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sutphin, 67, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, has been the agency's interim director since March when Mike Prendergast resigned to run for sheriff of Citrus County. A total of 310 people applied for the job, but Scott made clear that Sutphin was his top pick and no Cabinet member suggested anyone else be interviewed. The appointment is Scott's as a recommendation, subject to Cabinet approval.

The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs was created by voters in a constitutional amendment in 1988. The agency's mission includes overseeing construction of seven nursing homes for veterans and coordinating services for Florida's more than 2 million veterans, one of the state's most important and visible political constituencies. In a public job interview Tuesday, Sutphin told Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater that the state needs to build more nursing homes and to continue to restore armories.

The affable, white-haired Sutphin, known for his crisp demeanor and frequent use of "sir" and ma'am," worked for two decades at the Florida Army National Guard before joining the state agency in 1999. A familiar figure in the halls of the state Capitol during legislative sessions, he has been the agency's legislative affairs director since 1999, explaining and at times defending the agency's spending priorities. Sutphin's salary at FDVA is $150,000 a year, and he said he has visited most of the agency's locations around the state.

"I still have to get down to Pembroke Pines," he said.

Even though it's a longstanding priority of state officials to make Florida the nation's most veteran-friendly state, Sutphin said many veterans aren't aware of the government benefits available to them. He said he'll ask the Legislature for money to hire 10 more people to expand outreach efforts to veterans.

"You have to constantly interface and communicate with people," Sutphin told his bosses. "I don't mean email. I mean getting out there and eyeballing them."

July 27, 2016

Rick Scott to chair super PAC backing Trump

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott will serve as national chairman for Rebuilding America, a super PAC supporting Donald Trump.

The group made the announcement Wednesday night on Twitter.


Scott spoke last week at the Republican National Convention.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

July 26, 2016

Patrick Murphy delivers toxic algae to Gov. Rick Scott's office

0726 murphy algae


Upset that Republican Gov. Rick Scott hasn't personally come to the Treasure Coast to view algae blooms that are plaguing area waterways, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy hand-delivered several bottles full of the toxic green water to Scott's Tallahassee office on Tuesday morning.

Scott himself wasn't there, as he was attending a jobs event in Orange County. His spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said "it's disappointing that (Murphy) has spent more time on a stunt than a solution."

Murphy is a congressman from Jupiter, who represents the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County -- areas affected by the algae blooms. He said he doesn't want to "vilify" anyone or lay blame for the algae crisis, but he criticized the governor at length for not doing more.

0726 murphy algae2"We have repeatedly called on the governor to come down and visit our district to see this first hand, and the governor has refused to see it," Murphy said, while standing in the Florida Capitol rotunda following his 30-second visit to the governor's office. "So, I decided that I wanted to come to Tallahassee and deliver this bottle of toxic algae to the governor to make sure he sees exactly what we're dealing with on a day-to-day basis."

Murphy wants Scott to use Amendment 1 environmental funds "to acquire more land for conservation, for preservation, to do more to send this water south."

"There's so much that needs to be done," Murphy said. "And instead of declaring a state of emergency to actually try to solve a problem, the governor tried to point a finger at the federal government and blame other people."

He continued: "This isn't a problem where you should be pointing fingers and blaming folks. ... The local government, the state government, the federal government all have to come together to solve this problem -- not see how you can score some cheap political points."

Murphy was himself criticized earlier this month over the algae crisis. His congressional office attempted to delay the announcement of aid for small businesses so that Murphy could announce it at a press event he'd planned.

"We wish Congressman Murphy would spend more time in Washington getting Congress and the president to approve funding to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike, which has caused the algae problem in the Treasure Coast," said Schutz, the governor's spokeswoman. "Time and time again, the state continues to show up and put up funding to help with the water quality in this area and we wish Congress and the president would do the same."

Schutz added: "While Governor Scott has dedicated full resources to address this problem and recommended funding in next year’s budget, the federal government has failed to fund over $800 million in Everglades restoration which they are responsible for."

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau