Florida’s Scott Challenges Texas to Be Top Business State

Florida Governor Seeks Business
Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks during the Governor's Hurricane Conference General Session at the Broward County Convention Center on May 18, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale. Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Governor Rick Scott squared off against Rick Perry of Texas in a duel over which state is the most business-friendly.

“Seven years is long enough,” the first-term Republican wrote his counterpart after Texas was ranked the best state for business for a seventh time in a poll by Chief Executive magazine. “I am certain Texas’s days at the top are numbered.”

Scott, 58, a former hospital-chain executive, was elected in November with a promise to create 700,000 jobs and abolish Florida’s 5.5 percent company-profit tax. On Jan. 4, his first day in office, he signed an executive order to freeze new regulation. This month, the Legislature sent him a budget that increases the amount of corporate earnings exempt from taxes.

“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 today. “Florida is definitely on the road to be No. 1. Thank you for giving us the motivation we needed.”

Perry, 60, a third-term Republican, “would respectfully say, ‘Bring it on,’” Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman in Austin said via telephone today. The Texas governor touted his own state after CEO magazine’s poll was released May 3.

‘Successful Model’

The result is a “testament to our successful model for job creation and economic prosperity,” Perry said in a news release. “I am proud of our state’s accomplishments and remain committed to upholding principles like low taxes, restrained spending, reasonable regulations and a fair legal system.”

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, was among a group of elected officials and business executives who traveled to Texas last month to learn how the Lone Star State created 165,000 jobs over the past three years. California, with the largest U.S. workforce, lost 1.15 million jobs in the same period, according to the trip’s organizer, Assemblyman Dan Logue, a Republican.

Florida, the fourth-most-populous state, ranked third in CEO magazine’s poll of more than 500 executives, up from sixth last year. That’s wasn’t good enough for Scott.

“While we are grateful to move up three places, Florida will not settle for third place,” he wrote.

Scott’s letter isn’t the first time he singled out Perry in his rivalry with the second-most-populous state. In an interview on PBS television Jan. 11, he said he emulates the governor.

“I always tell people, ‘I see Rick Perry in Texas, doing a great job of job creation,’” he said. “I say, ‘Whatever he did well, we’ve got to do a little bit better.’”

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