NewsNationalDemocracy 2018


FGCU fact check: Scott's record on water quality

Posted at 7:13 AM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 07:23:52-04


In the year of red tide and green algae, Democrats have gotten a lot of use out of an attack against Rick Scott, claiming he took $700 million from the state’s water management districts' budgets. 

An FGCU journalism class, that is fact-checking local political claims this fall, says the attack is mostly true, with one important distinction. 
The class discovered Scott, who as governor had final say over the water management district’s budgets, was in charge when the districts cut $700 million from their budgets in the 2012 fiscal year. 
The governor touted the cuts in his weekly radio address in August of 2011.
"Altogether, these budgets represent a reduction of more than 700 million over last year,” Scott said.
Based on that, the class found truth in a Florida Democratic Party tweet that criticized Scott’s environmental record. 
But they were also troubled by what they called an exaggerated claim in the tweet. 
After 2012, Scott increased the budgets for those water management districts. 
"So it wasn't 700 million, it was actually 400 million dollars” in cuts, Ross Mattias-Cooper said. Matthias-Cooper is an intern working with the class to vet claims. 

He says the actual cuts, $400 million, were bad enough. 

"Now, you see a tweet like this, and they kind of skew the truth a little bit, then you look at it and wonder if they're skewing any other tweets,” he said. “Is everything accurate, or are they blowing things out of proportion a little bit?"