TALLAHASSEE — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is rebuking claims that he flip-flopped on details of his centerpiece campaign promise to create 700,000 private-sector jobs in seven years.
During the 2010 campaign, Scott said repeatedly — and on video — that the 700,000 jobs he would create with corporate tax cuts and fewer regulations would be in addition "what's projected" as normal growth. State economists projected Florida would gain 1 million jobs in the same period, regardless of who was elected governor.
Scott did not dispute that number during the campaign. But this week, Scott told reporters his promise was to create 700,000 jobs, period.
On Tuesday, PolitiFact Florida ruled Scott's conflicting statements a Full Flop.
On Friday, Scott issued a meandering statement "setting the record straight."
In the statement, Scott said that he would keep his campaign promise to create 700,000 jobs in addition to normal growth, or as he put it — "no matter what the economy might otherwise gain or lose." That is in contrast to what he said earlier this week.
But Scott went on to cast doubt on the prediction from state economists, including those who remain on the Governor's Office payroll, that normal growth will amount to around 1 million jobs.
He said economic predictions "shift in the wind." But that fails to note that state economists have presented nearly the same long-term jobs forecast for Florida since 2009.
"Instead of focusing on hypotheticals, I'm focused on what I know will be accomplished through my 7-7-7 plan — the creation of 700,000 jobs over seven years regardless of what the economy might otherwise gain or lose," Scott said. "Floridians will judge me not on what an economist in Tallahassee predicts, but on actual job growth each month."
Later Friday, Scott used his weekly radio address to say that his goal is to create 700,000 jobs "regardless of what happens with the economy."
The state has added about 71,000 jobs since January.
"Our plan is seven steps to 700,000 jobs, and that plan is on top of what normal growth would be," Scott said during an October gubernatorial debate.
When a questioner noted that would mean creating about 1.7 million jobs, when only about 1 million Floridians were currently unemployed, Scott answered: "We're going to grow the state."
But Scott disavowed the promise in a series of interviews starting in August.
At one point, to an Associated Press reporter, Scott said he didn't know who even made the original claim. "I have no idea," he said.
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