Gov. Rick Scott spent the second day of his job-recruitment trip to California touting Florida’s business climate.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, keeping an eye on Scott, continued to mock the Florida governor for taking such trips while ignoring the economic and social impacts of climate change.
“So, while you’re enjoying a stroll on one of California’s beautiful beaches this week, don’t stick your head in the sand,” Brown wrote in a letter to Scott on Monday.
Scott isn’t expected to do much beach strolling on the trip, which continues into Wednesday with stops in San Jose and San Francisco.
On Monday, Scott wrapped eight “business development” meetings in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills on his daily schedule around an appearance at the Milken Institute Global Conference. As part of a panel, Scott talked up Florida’s spending on seaports, the state’s crime-prevention efforts, the need for the United States to maintain an economic embargo against Cuba and his signature issue of jobs.
“If we don’t continue to build this country … we’re going to have a problem,” said Scott during a panel titled “Governors Address Challenges Facing States.”
Scott appeared in the live-streamed panel discussion with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Scott’s comments came as he tries to wrest businesses and jobs from California. In part, he has highlighted California’s move to raise its minimum wage and said that is a reason for business owners to head east.
The names of other participants in the business development meetings were not released by the governor’s office.
An audience member at the Milken conference, noting that Scott’s Florida pitch had been included in fliers handed out at the conference, asked why workers should consider moving to Florida.
“If I’m a public servant, let’s say a teacher, a firefighter or even a cop, why would I put my life on the line in Florida while getting less money, lower pension benefits and less labor protection?” the unidentified audience member asked during the panel discussion. “I appreciate the beaches in Florida, but the beaches in California are pretty as well.”
Scott responded by pointing to a four-decade low in the crime rate, noted he’s been to every law-enforcement funeral in the state since being elected and pointed to a new law that will increase benefits for survivors of first responders killed in the line of duty.
“Our goal is to make it the state where you want to be there, and you want to be, because you know we care about you and we’re going to take care of you,” Scott said.
In advance of the trip, Enterprise Florida, the state’s business-recruitment arm, started running a radio ad in Los Angeles and San Francisco attacking a deal that will incrementally increase the minimum wage in California from $10 an hour to $15 an hour by 2022.
Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.05 an hour.
With the release of the ad, Brown and Scott exchanged jabs over job-growth numbers, both spinning numbers that favored the increases in their respective states. Brown on Monday continued to mock Scott for using the trip as a way to ignore issues at home, with an emphasis on the potential impacts of climate change on Florida.
“If you’re truly serious about Florida’s economic well-being, it’s time to stop the silly political stunts and start doing something about climate change – two words you won’t even let state officials say,” Brown wrote in a letter to Scott. “The threat is real and so too will be the devastating impacts.”
To back up his letter, Brown included a copy of a report by the Risky Business Project, which notes that by 2030 in Florida “up to $69 billion in coastal property will likely be at risk of inundation at high tide that is not at risk today.”
The project was started by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.