By Rex Sinquefield, Forbes.com Contributor
The Sunshine State’s Governor Rick Scott is turning the heat up in the jobs battle between the states with his “One Way Ticket to Florida” public relations campaign. In a meeting that I had with him last week, Governor Scott made it clear… he is proudly and unabashedly taking a page out of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s “TexasWideOpenforBusiness.com” playbook. His goal is to lure employers away from less business-friendly states. So far, Scott has sent letters to business owners in high-tax states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, and my own home state of Missouri.
In Missouri, Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon opened the door for Scott’s recruitment activities last summer when he vetoed the first state income tax cut bill passed in the legislature in nearly 100 years. As Missouri legislators were debating whether they would override the Governor’s veto, Gov. Scott sent a letterto Show Me State businesses encouraging them to move to Florida and pointing to the many economic advantages that can be found there, including.
- An unemployment rate below the national average
- Fewer business regulations
- 370,000 new private sector jobs added in the last two years
- A Tax Foundation report ranking Florida among the top five most business friendly states, while Missouri ranks a tepid 16.
And Scott is set to do even more to boost Florida’s economy. This year, he is proposing that Florida’s recent gains should be used to fuel even more growth. In January, Scott laid out his “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget.” This forward-thinking plan promises to return $500 million in taxes and fees to families and businesses. Just as important, Scott wants to cut government waste by nearly $290 million, and pay down more of the state’s debt by $170 million.
If Scott is successful in passing this proposal, taxpayers would save $400 million through the elimination of annual automobile tax and fee increases, save another $100 million by reducing taxes on commercial leases (Florida is the only state in the Union that imposes such a tax), increase the number of businesses that are exempt from business income tax (which will save more than $20 million in taxes), and reduce business filing fees by $33 million.
The plan also sets aside $5.1 billion in reserves while investing a record high of nearly $19 billion in K-12 education.
Florida’s warm winter months, beautiful beaches, family entertainment centers, and rich cultural history have long been a draw for family vacations. In fact, Florida is the top travel destination in the world. In 2012, a record-setting 89.3 million visitors came to the state.
Given Gov. Scott’s commitment to putting more money in the hands of hardworking families and business owners, Florida may soon become the top destination for employers and workers, as well.