Former state senator Nan Rich is challenging former governor Charlie Crist in the Democratic primary later this month for the chance to challenge Gov. Rick Scott later this year.
But polls show Rich has a tall hill to climb to become the face of the Democratic Party in this year's election. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll shows more than 80 percent of respondents don't know enough about Rich.
At a Florida Press Association event in Coral Gables a few weeks ago, the former senate minority leader said Florida had the third most regressive tax base. She also said retirees and tourists are the dominant economic engine in the state. Rich's statements caught fact-checking project PolitiFact's attention.
Below, hear and read an interview with Amy Sherman, the Miami Herald's PolitiFact reporter.
Nan Rich claims Florida has the third most regressive tax base in the country. First off, define regressive.
Regressive refers to, proportionally, poor people and middle class people paying more of their income toward state taxes than the rich. She's very close [on her statement].
She pointed to a study by the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy which partners with a group called Citizens for Tax Justice, which advocates for middle and low-income families. And, they ranked Florida second. No surprise on that because we have no state income tax.
We did find groups that did criticized that report, particularly the fact that it's critical of states with no income tax, such as Florida. But we didn't find any evidence to dispute that ranking of No. 2, so we rated Rich's statement as "mostly true."
According to the study you cited in your report, all states have regressive tax systems.
All states have regressive tax systems, just some more than others. And those without a state income tax, such as Florida, are particularly more regressive according to that report.
Do you think this is a way for Rich to set herself apart in a race that has been mostly about Gov. Rick Scott and former governor Charlie Crist?
I think this is a way for Rich to show that she's trying to define herself as the progressive candidate and that she's looking out for the little guy in Florida.
[Rich said retirees and tourists] are the dominant economic engines of Florida. While these sectors create jobs, they're usually low-paying and low-skilled jobs. ... What does the truth meter say about her claim?
We found that her claim was hard to quantify. We found no cut and dry answers to the question of which sectors are Florida's dominant economic engines. However, economists told us that tourism and retirees play a major role in the state's economy, so we rated her claim "mostly true."
When we looked at economic data about jobs provided by the federal government, there is no sector that straight up is called tourism or retirees. It ends up affecting multiple sectors including obviously hotels, entertainment and restaurants for tourists. But that's not purely all for tourists. And the same goes for retirees. They certainly pay into our health care system a lot, but the entire health care sector isn't entirely from retirees.
You can read PolitiFact's full reports at PolitiFact.com/florida.