Fact-Checking Long-Term Unemployment, Speed Limits and Sharia Law

May 14, 2014

Credit politifact.com

The gubernatorial race continues to heat up in Florida, with the Republican party taking lots of swipes at presumed Democratic candidate Charlie Crist -- who was once the state's Republican governor.

The economy, which started to fall apart on Crist's watch, is a big target of Republican criticism.

But Crist is hitting back -- claiming the economy is not as great as Gov. Rick Scott is claiming.

In an April TV ad by Gov. Rick Scott’s political committee Let’s Get to Work, the narration says, "Florida’s unemployment tripled. 800,000 jobs gone...." and reels off other bad news economic statistics. "Which governor took Florida to the bottom? Charlie Crist."

Crist counter-attacked on his campaign website and argued that the unemployment picture isn’t as rosy as painted by his Republican opponent.

"Floridians understand that Scott’s numbers never tell the whole truth. But, since he insists on talking about numbers, here are some of his own..."

Crist then cites a series of unflattering economic numbers including this one:

"Florida is ranked second in the nation in long-term unemployment."

"PolitiFact rated that one half true," said PolitiFact's Josh Gillin. "Crist was looking at an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute that said other than New Jersey and Washington, D.C., which were tied for worst in long-term unemployment, was second with 46.2 percent of paid off Floridians being out of work for at least six months in 2013.  Economists we talked to had a lot of problems with this. The biggest problem is that it did not include the entire labor force, just people who had been laid off."

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott has announced that's he's vetoing some recently passed bills that would have allowed the highway department to increase the speed limit of 75 miles an hour if it chose to.

The governor said he was listening to law enforcement in vetoing the measure for safety reasons.

But Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell said in debate over this bill that there is no "incontrovertible proof that speed, in and of itself, increased fatal accidents."

"We rated that one half true," Gillin said. "Beside the fact that the very physics of speed does make accidents more fatal, it doesn't necessarily mean that accidents go up. One of our analysts said that there's no such thing as a magic speed."

And, finally, eyebrows were certainly raised at the end of the Florida legislative session when a conservative Republican blog claimed that "Florida Democrats just voted to impose Sharia law on Women."

"We rated this one pants on fire," Gillin explained. "It was about a vote in the senate on a law that would not allow judges to use foreign law if it superseded a Florida law or a national law. Fourteen senate Democrats voted against this saying this was already on the books. But the bloggers said this is actually a vote about the state of Florida being allowed to impose Sharia law... It's no such thing."