Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Rick Scott was criticized by a state lawmaker for backing off his promise to create 700,000 jobs over seven years in addition to those produced by economic growth.
Scott, a first-term Republican who made the pledge during his campaign last year, now says he promised the state would add only 700,000 total. State economists said in July that Florida can expect more than 1 million new jobs over of seven years.
“I just want to confirm that we’re backtracking,” Representative James Waldman, a Democrat from Coconut Creek, told Jon Costello, Scott’s legislative affairs director, in a Tallahassee committee meeting yesterday.
“If what we’re talking about now is only 700,000 jobs, I’m looking at a 300,000 to 400,000 jobs loss” from what state economists forecast, he said. “I want to make sure that what we’re trying to really do is create more new jobs, not the ones that would have just automatically been created.”
Costello responded that any employment gains from the recovery would be included in Scott’s 700,000 pledge.
“It’s impossible to isolate” the impact of policies from normal growth, he said. In the event of another recession, the governor is still committed to creating 700,000 jobs, he said.
Florida lost more than 900,000 jobs from its employment peak in March 2007 to its low in December 2009, according to U.S. Labor Department data, as the U.S. experienced its longest recession since World War II. It has since gained more than 82,000 posts. The unemployment rate was 10.7 percent in August, 1.6 percentage points above the national average.
Determining the Cause
Scott, 58, said he would create the jobs in addition to natural growth in a January interview in Washington, acknowledging the difficulty of determining the cause.
“It’ll be the 700,000 plus what would be normal,” Scott said on Jan. 29. “It’ll be hard to figure out which is which.”
He also made his promise in an October 2010 gubernatorial debate aired on an ABC news affiliate in Tampa and in a July 2010 interview on his campaign bus posted by the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times.
Scott has since reversed course, telling reporters earlier this month that his initial promise was not for an increase on top of projected growth.
Scott unveiled a Job Creation and Economic Growth Agenda on Oct. 12. The plan calls for streamlining permitting and decreasing regulation for companies, business-tax cuts, job retraining for the unemployed, investing in transportation and emphasizing science, engineering and mathematics in schools.
“Governor Scott remains focused on continuously improving programs for both job creation and for workforce development to reach 100,000 new jobs this year and 700,000 jobs in seven years,” a statement said.
--Editor: Jerry Hart, Mark Schoifet
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