No one enjoys talking about job growth and Florida’s economy more than Gov. Rick Scott.
“Think about how many people are moving and how many jobs are being added. Our job growth rate is three times the national number,” Scott boasted Thursday evening at the end of his two-day economic development mission to Chicago.
It was the latest in a series of visits the governor has made to other states designed to attract businesses to Florida.
Scott has no problem going to other areas of the country to poach out-of-state jobs.
“I have done a variety of states. I have gone to New York and Connecticut and Pennsylvania and California, Kentucky and now I have come here and we just meet with companies and tell the Florida story,” Scott said. “We have lower taxes. We have less regulation. We’re doing the opposite of what the politicians in Illinois are doing.”
But last week’s jobs mission to Chicago was a little different.
Usually, Scott focuses his recruitment efforts in high-tax states led by Democratic governors. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is a Republican.
Scott was careful to focus his criticism during this trip at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, and the Illinois Legislature. Illinois lawmakers passed a budget this year after failing to do so the past two years. Gov. Rauner vetoed the spending plan because it increased taxes. The Legislature overrode his veto.
“While Governor Rauner has tried to grow Illinois’ economy, Chicago leaders and state legislators have for years been passing shortsighted policies and overwhelming increases of taxes and fees,” Scott said before leaving for Chicago.
For Scott, Chicago and Illinois reflect a stark contrast to what is happening in Florida. His pitch to business leaders is that Florida is cutting taxes and regulations in an effort to create a more business-friendly environment. In the past seven years, taxes have been cut 75 times and 5,000 regulations have been eliminated.
Scott has been criticized for his job-poaching missions to other states. A Los Angeles Times editorial criticized Scott’s visit to California last year as being “especially offensive.” It bashed the governor for attacking California’s decision to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over a six-year period. The Times said Scott “should be home in Florida … trying to create well-paying jobs, instead of trolling for low-wage one that he can steal in California, undermining this state’s effort to pay a living wage to more of its low-skilled workers.”
“California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We’re competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida,” California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said in a letter to Scott last year.
Scott doesn’t mind the criticism. His economic development missions are designed to keep telling people of the benefits Florida has to offer businesses who might be considering relocating here.
“We just keep talking with people. They’re very receptive and we just keep moving the process along. That’s why we’re adding 20,000 jobs month after month,” Scott said. “I just keep explaining how your business can thrive better in Florida if you’re competing globally than anyplace else.”
Scott says businesses in other states are listening.
“They’re very interested. As you already know, a lot of people are already moving to Florida,” Scott added. “We have 250,000 people a year moving to Florida. We have people from all over the world coming to our state because there’s a greater chance to living the dream in Florida than anyplace else.”
Scott says last week’s jobs mission was a reminder of another benefit Florida offers businesses that might want to relocate here–it’s weather. He says when he stepped off the plane on Wednesday the temperature in the Windy City was a cold 38 degrees.
“It helps,” Scott said. “People like our weather.”