Florida Gov. Rick Scott plans to travel to Louisiana this week to try to lure businesses from here to his state.
The so-called domestic trade mission was announced in a news release from Scott’s office Tuesday, in which he took aim at Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana's unemployment rate and the state's fiscal challenges. Scott, a Republican, has been Florida's governor since 2011. Edwards, a Democrat, took office in 2016.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has revealed that he plans to travel to Louisiana this summer to tell business leaders here how Florida “is making it …
“While we are fighting to cut taxes and make it harder for politicians to raise taxes in Florida, Louisiana is doing the exact opposite. In fact, for nearly two years, Gov. John Bel Edwards has been continuously working to raise taxes instead of reaching a long-term solution for their state’s financial crisis," Scott said in the news release. "With no income tax, a low business tax and a business-friendly environment, Florida is the perfect location for Louisiana business owners and families who want to keep more of their hard-earned money."
Facing a massive budget shortfall when Edwards took office, state lawmakers temporarily raised Louisiana's sales tax in 2016. The temporary tax hike is set to expire on June 1, prompting a push for another special session to address the looming $1 billion "fiscal cliff." Edwards and legislative leaders have not yet reached an agreement on the best approach. He supports efforts to bring in additional revenue to cover the gap.
Scott's news release doesn't offer a timeline or provide details about which companies he plans to target, but on Twitter he said it will take place this week. A spokeswoman said details are still being finalized.
Governor, we've turned this state around, and we'll be happy to show you how we've done it. But do us all a favor, call this what it is - a fundraising stop on another one of your campaigns. Louisianans would appreciate the honesty. https://t.co/ZdESXwkz8J #lagov #lalege https://t.co/5egcTC1xZH— Gov John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) January 16, 2018
Edwards' deputy chief of staff Richard Carbo said Scott is playing politics and pointed out his connections to Edwards' Republican predecessor, Bobby Jindal. Several of Jindal's former top aides went to work for Scott.
"We’re happy to have him visit Louisiana and see for himself all that Gov. Edwards has done to turn this state around - record low unemployment, higher wages, historic economic development announcements and stabilized funding for higher education," Carbo said. "However, Gov. Scott should call this what it is - a fundraising stop on his yet-to-be announced U.S. Senate campaign. Louisianans would appreciate the honesty and hope that he’ll take his political contributions and leave."
Edwards has recently touted the state's unemployment rate, which at 4.7 percent is higher than the national average but is the state's lowest percentage since 2008. He has also set out to highlight news that Virginia-based DXC Technology will open a New Orleans office that will eventually bring 2,000 tech jobs -- one of the largest economic development projects in the state’s history.
"Instead of fundraising, we’d recommend (Scott) spend time with the first responders we willingly dispatched to Florida last hurricane season when his state needed assistance," Carbo said.
Scott had initially planned a similar effort in 2016, but his trip was postponed because of a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead.