Gov. Rick Scott was in Connecticut and New York this week doing his traveling-salesman act for Florida.
"My pitch is you should give up, capitulate, come to Florida and make it easier on yourselves," Scott told a group of businesspeople and Republican state legislators at a Norwalk hotel Monday morning. "If you want to live in a place that has lower taxes, less regulations, has good universities, is less expensive, where there's a greater chance your kids and grandkids are going to get a job, you're going to be in Florida."
The reaction went, well, as expected.
Connecticut State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican, wrote an editorial that appeared in her local New Canaan Patch expressing disappointment “that more did not attend.”
“I've always believed that you need to know who your competition is and what they are saying so you can learn to fight back,” wrote Boucher, who attended the meeting with Scott. “Our competition right now is Texas and Florida. These are states with no income tax, no inheritance tax, low costs, and low regulation. Connecticut needs to wake up.”
Bill Cibes, who has served as a state legislator, chancellor of the Connecticut State University System and secretary of the Office of Policy and Management under former Gov. Lowell Weicker, argued in an editorial appearing in the Hartford Courant that “Connecticut businesses should not be seduced” by Scott's invitation.
Cibes contended, based on analysis by the accounting firm Ernst & Young for the Council on State Taxation, that Florida businesses pay a higher share of state and local taxes than their Nutmeg State counterparts.
“For local taxes alone, businesses in Florida pay more than double the share that businesses in Connecticut do —- 59.7 percent vs. 24.7 percent. In Florida, 40.8 percent of total business taxes go to pay property taxes — as opposed to 31.6 percent in Connecticut,” Cibes wrote. “In short, the state of Florida and its municipalities expect businesses to shoulder a far greater share of the tax burden than Connecticut does. Gov. Scott's case is not persuasive.”
The Connecticut State Police Union went after Scott for bragging about tax cuts and job creation and noted “the Florida Highway Patrol has the lowest paid troopers in the country,” according to WTNH News 8 in East Hartford.
The Hartford Courant
also sent a direct message to Scott: "Here's some advice for Florida Gov. Rick Scott: Go back to Florida and stay there."
“Connecticut beats Florida in median income, percent of children attending preschool, percent of high schoolers graduating on time, percent with a college education (44.7 percent, compared to 36.7 percent in Florida), civic engagement, volunteerism and more,” a Courant editorial said.
Florida, the editorial also said, “has more poverty, more violent crime and more disconnected youth.”