PolitiFact Checks Out Scott's State Of The State Address

Mar 15, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott gave his sixth State of the State address recently. He touched on some familiar themes, such as claiming to have helped create more than a million new jobs. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida to examine Scott's claims on commercial leases, teacher pay, tax cuts - and of course, jobs.

Gov. Rick Scott's recent State of the State address painted a rosy picture of Florida. Jobs are being created, taxes are going down.

PolitiFact Florida takes a look at some of his claims, regarding commercial leasing taxes, teacher pay, job creation and tax cuts:

Commercial leases

Scott once again he will pursue a repeal of the state’s "unfair" tax on corporate leases, something he says is unique only to Florida.

"Florida is now the only state in the nation to tax commercial leases," Scott said.

We rated this True. Florida does levy a 6 percent sales tax on the total rent paid for any commercial property, including storefronts, offices and warehouses.

From everything we gathered Scott’s seems to be accurate. A 2014 research memorandum from the Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, concluded that Florida is the only state that imposes a sales tax on commercial real estate leases.

Their research looked at other municipalities with similar laws like New York City and Arizona, but didn’t find any other states with a tax quite as comprehensive as Florida’s.

Teacher pay

If Republican leaders want to attract good-paying jobs to Florida, House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz says that they should start with well-funded public schools.

"The right thing is to just give teachers a raise," said Cruz, who represents Tampa. "It is embarrassing and I am ashamed that Florida pays our teachers $10,000 a year less than the national average. We are one of the largest states in the country. If we continue to recruit and retain the most talented people to educate our children, it starts with paying them a wage that they can live on without working a second job."

Cruz certainly has a point. On the specifics, teacher pay in Florida lags behind the national average by about $9,000 according to the National Education Association. We rated her claim

Mostly True.

State still cranking on jobs

Scott touted his successes since taking office, many of which are tracked on our Scott-O-Meter.

Scott said Florida has added more than 1.2 million new private sector jobs since he first took office. Scott is citing accurate data, but he still has quite a bit to go before reaching his 2010 promise of 1.7 million jobs in seven years, so this promise stays In the Works.

55 tax cuts?

How many times have lawmakers cut taxes? According to Scott, "Together, we have cut taxes 55 times." In previous iterations of this talking point, we found that his total accounts for more than just pure tax cuts, including esoteric tax credits, changes in unemployment compensation and sales tax holidays.