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Florida Gov. vs Texas Gov. pro-business smackdown ignores what really worries CEOs

Published May 20, 2011

Wake up and good morning. What's this? Florida Gov. Rick Scott's calling out Texas Gov. Rick Perry for an economic "who loves business more" smackdown? Now that our state leader's tuned into the news that Chief Executive magazine ranked Texas No. 1 and Florida No. 3 in its annual survey of CEO's picking the best state for business, Gov. Scott (AP photo, left) tells Gov. Perry (AP photo, below right) that Texas' days at the top are numbered.

"Seven years is long enough," Scott wrote Perry, a reference to the fact that Texas has been No. 1 in the magazine poll since 2004 (and Florida rose from No. 6 to No. 3 this year from 2010). "I am certain Texas's days at the top are numbered."

Well this might make a fun reality TV show, or WWE-like wrestling spectacle with two greaased governors knocking each other senseless in a largely meaningless competition. The editor of Chief Executive magazine, J.P. Donlon, told me weeks ago that the difference between being No. 1 and No. 3 in his annual survey is marginal at best. Once you're in the top three states (Texas, North Carlina and Florida), it's all about the same -- certainly when compared with the rest of the U.S. states.

"We have no personal income tax and are phasing out the business tax, starting with eliminating it entirely for half the businesses that paid it," Scott told Perry in his letter, released by his Tallahassee office Thursday. "Florida is definitely on the road to be No. 1. Thank you for giving us the motivation we needed."

As reported by Bloomberg News, Perry, 60, a third-term Republican, "would respectfully say, 'Bring it on,'" Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman in Austin said. The Texas governor -- who was just endorsed for president by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh -- touted his own state after CEO magazine's poll was released May 3.

Funny and sad how Scott's missing the meatier issue. While he's busy sparring with press releases over marginal gains in reducing super-low Florida business taxes even lower, the country's CEOs are wincing at the already poor-reputation public education system in Florida go up in flames as school budgets again get slashed.

What did Chief Executive's Dillon suggest to states competing against Florida for relocating businesses? If I were a state bidding against Florida, I would say our high school graduates are better educated.

What's that smell? Is that Rome burning while the Gov. fiddles over superficial matters?

-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times

Posted by Robert Trigaux at 7:12:15 am on May 20, 2011