1. Florida Politics

Bousquet: Gov. Rick Scott hopes to poach Pennsylvania jobs

Published Feb. 17, 2015

The temperature in Tallahassee on Monday was 62 degrees.

The temperature in Philadelphia was 12 with a forecast of up to 4 inches of snow overnight.

So why is Gov. Rick Scott planning to spend two days in Philadelphia next week?

To poach jobs.

It's not exactly an act of brotherly love.

But this is Scott's mission, and, like the proverbial mail carrier, no snowstorm will keep him from his appointed rounds.

As his office said in a news release: "Gov. Scott will meet with job creators and business leaders to discuss why they should move their business to Florida and buy a one-way ticket to the Sunshine State."

Scott will bring a team of four state officials from Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida, the Department of Economic Opportunity and Department of Education. All at taxpayer expense, of course.

Pennsylvania, in the heart of the rust belt, is a heavily unionized and high-tax state with a personal income tax, which is prohibited by the Florida Constitution. That makes it an inviting target for Scott.

As he packs his bags, Scott could not resist taking a shot at Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania's new Democratic governor.

"Unlike Gov. Tom Wolf, we are focused on creating an environment where our families and job creators can succeed," Scott's office said.

Will this gimmick work? It's hard to say. Scott's office has declined to identify which companies he'll meet with and his office says the meetings will be private.

So there's no way of knowing how effective Scott's sales pitch will be, unless and until a company in Pennsylvania decides to move south.

Sam Denisco, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce's vice president for government affairs, said it's true that his state is not business-friendly, citing its "dubious" standing as the state with the highest effective corporate income tax. But he expressed surprise at Scott's upcoming visit.

"We're not used to other states calling our state out," Denisco said. "This is a little more blunt than we're used to."

In the past couple of years, Scott has taken aim at other states for jobs, including Connecticut, California, Illinois, Maryland and Minnesota. But he showed little interest in stealing jobs from Pennsylvania, because the state had a Republican governor. Until November, when Wolf knocked Tom Corbett out of office.

In fact, Wolf was the only Democratic candidate for governor in the United States to defeat a sitting Republican in the 2014 election cycle.

Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan called Scott's trip "a political stunt." He said Wolf, who made a fortune running a kitchen cabinet company, is trying to improve "the stagnant economy" Corbett left.

And here's an interesting fact: Florida's unemployment rate is 5.6 percent and Pennsylvania's is 4.8 percent, nearly a full percentage point lower. Denisco said that's likely a result of the surge in natural gas exploration in rural areas of the state.

Fewer people are out of work in the Keystone State than in Florida, home of the jobs governor.

Scott might want to tread carefully when he preaches to his Pennsylvania counterpart about how to create jobs.

Contact Steve Bousquet at Follow stevebousquet.


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