Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, announced with some fanfare that he would be coming to Louisiana to plunder our economic base and lure to the Sunshine State some of our disaffected businesses.
Some might say, as did Gov. John Bel Edwards, that Scott is taking political potshots instead of advancing a real business recruiting trip. It's a free country, of course, and Scott can go where he wishes. The Florida governor, a somewhat controversial former tycoon in the health care industry, has targeted some other states in his “recruitment” trips, including California and New York. Unlike Louisiana, those are reliably Democratic strongholds, but with nowhere near the same tax policies, for good or ill, as Louisiana. Florida and Louisiana are among the states with the lowest state and local tax burdens.
States court businesses from other states all the time. Louisiana has, as our governor noted, had some recent wins on that front, including one of the top business relocations in America, DXC Technology, coming to Poydras Street in New Orleans. Ironically, New Orleans was where Scott was fishing for relocations on Wednesday.
Economic competition is a good thing. But Scott made his so-called recruitment mission into a clumsy piece of political theater, taking a gratuitous jab at Edwards for “continuously working to raise taxes instead of reaching a long-term solution for (his) state’s financial crisis.”
If Florida wants to be a friendly competitor, this is hardly the tone to take. The whole thing seems cooked up by several aides to former Gov. Bobby Jindal who now work for Scott. Some members of that "Louisiana Mafia" have also generated controversy in the Sunshine State by taking big salaries and bringing ultra-partisan politics to Tallahassee.
The current budget crisis owes less to Edwards, we think, than to Jindal. Giving Edwards another chance to bring up Jindal’s name might be doing our current governor a favor.
Industries thinking of moving to Florida should keep in mind that Scott can be a fair-weather friend when it comes to rolling out the welcome mat. When President Donald Trump favored opening new sources of energy exploration off the coast of Florida, Scott was there to protest — and gain an exemption based on political expedience, not the national interest.
Welcome, Gov. Scott, and come again. We hope you didn't get any takers.