At the Trop, Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to emulate Texas, lure business from Illinois
Wake up and good morning. Now that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has a few weeks of governing under his belt, he also is starting to build up some anecdotes. At Thursday's annual luncheon of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, keynoted by Scott, the governor said he has admired the economic success of Texas and tactics of its governor, Rick Perry. In fact, Scott is patterning some of his actions here to boost business activity after the Lone Star state.
"Whatever you do, we'll do better," Scott said of Perry to the St. Pete chamber audience amid the new AstroTurf in the outfield at Tropicana Field. Nice sound bite. But what does it mean? Most folks in the Trop audience assumed Scott is talking about cutting taxes and red tape that might slow business activity more than his counterpart in Texas. Of course, Texas never faced much of the housing bubble Florida suffers, which means Texans have not seen staggering sums of wealth, in the form of home equity, evaporate. Florida's unemployment rate is also a sky high 12 percent, while Texas' jobless rate is 8.3 percent -- well below the national rate of 9.4 percent.
Since Scott's using some of the same anecdotes in his speeches now, here's some perspective from other newspapers and blog postings from his earlier remarks about Gov. Perry here in a Jacksonville post (that includes this insight: After 10 years of Perry's reign, Texas is struggling with a budget deficit that could be as high as $27 billion), and here in a PBS interview.
Scott's second tale at the Trop was to remind Floridians that he is the state's jobs salesman. That's why he's making calls to businesses elsewhere to tout Florida as a great place to expand or relocate. Scott's favorite state to call right now is Illinois, whose budget is so in the red it is raising taxes dramatically. Scott also reminds business executives on his calls there, with Illinois now under deep snow and ice, that -- hang on -- he might have to bump up his air conditioning to stay cool.
I guess there's more than one way to make a "cold" call. But kudos to the governor for trying. He knows what salesmanship requires. A good story and persistence.
Photos: At top, Scott delivering remarks at Tropicana Field and, in second photo, speaking with Tampa Bay Rays president Matt Silverman (left) with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster (right). Photos by James Borchuck of the St. Petersburg Times.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist