Déjà vu, anyone?
Last time this happened, it was another big-talking governor named Rick -- Rick Perry of Texas, who showed up in Sacramento driving a Tesla to entice the car company to set up its battery factory in the Lone Star State. It went to Nevada instead.
Now it’s Scott’s turn. But what would await a California company in Florida, beside sinkholes, huge insects, humidity, strip malls, backyard alligators, mold, and modern cannibalism (the “Miami Zombie” was in 2012; the Donner Party was nearly 170 years ago)?
Matters like this:
As California leads the nation in grappling with climate change, Scott has whacked at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, and reportedly told state officials in Florida – with 1,350 miles of ocean coastline – not to use phrases like “global warming” or “climate change.”
Scott – who headed a hospital firm that was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud – loathes Obamacare, and Florida doesn’t have its own health insurance exchange, as California does. Nonetheless, this year more people signed up for federal Obamacare in Florida than in any other state.
- Florida’s 2015 state budget, which Scott wanted to be big on tax cuts, has opened up a billion-dollar-plus healthcare sinkhole.
- According to some analyses over the last few years—the latest from WalletHub -- Florida is a "taker "state when it comes to federal tax money. WalletHub finds it gets about $2.02 in federal help for every tax dollar it sends to Washington. Californians may be footing Florida’s bill; we get back only 68 cents in benefits for every federal tax dollar we pay.
- The dean of the business school at Florida State University is leaving that job – to become dean of the business school at Santa Clara University.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s spokesman, with merry malice, welcomed Scott as "one of the 60 million tourists expected to visit California this year."
But when I asked the Miami Herald's Dave Berry, the funniest newspaperman in the business, he warned me and other Californians: “Do not underestimate Rick Scott. He’s a very intense, very determined guy. He reminds me a little of those relentless individuals on “The Walking Dead” who are always banging against doors and walls, trying to get inside and consume the main characters. Sometimes that tactic works, and it’s entirely possible that Gov. Scott will be successful in persuading some California businesses to relocate to Florida. I just hope to God it’s not the Kardashians.”
I think Brown's office should send Scott a copy of this Fresno Bee editorial, which nailed the “business-hostile California” trope this way:
“But California, despite high taxes, tough regulations and expensive housing, is not a terrible place. It leads the nation in venture capital investments, technology growth and tourism. Its public university systems, while pressed for cash, outshine all others. Its gorgeous coastline, mountains and valleys, which are beautiful thanks in part to environmental regulators, are a huge draw. And its famous social tolerance makes California a place where smart, ambitious and creative people come to find their fortunes, and employ untold thousands while doing so.”
So welcome, Gov. Scott, but watch out: California is an enticing, exciting, enchanting place. Why, just last summer, Rick Perry let slip that he actually loves California, that he visits and vacations here often, and might even give up Lone Star residency for the Golden State.
Follow Patt Morrison on Twitter @pattmlatimes