Rick Scott, Florida's Republican governor, is in California this week as part of a "trade mission" to lure away companies that want to avoid California's scheduled minimum-wage hike. Gov. Jerry Brown welcomed Scott in his typically tart way, pointing out that California's economy is booming right now and creating jobs faster than other states can steal them, thank you very much.
"California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We're competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida," Brown wrote in a letter to Scott. Rather than traipsing around California seeking to take away other people's jobs, Brown suggested that Scott should be concerning himself with the significant economic effects of climate change on his low-lying, swampy state.
What Brown didn't say to Scott — and should have — is that although California is used to periodic interstate poaching, the premise of this particular trip is especially offensive. Scott should be at home in Florida (where the minimum wage is $8.05 an hour) trying to create well-paying jobs, instead of trolling for low-wage ones that he can steal in California, undermining this state's efforts to pay a living wage to more of its low-skilled workers.
That doesn't seem to concern Scott, who said: "By raising the minimum wage in California, 700,000 people are going to lose their jobs, there are a lot of opportunities for companies to prosper in Florida and compete here, and that's what I'm going after." That's a message that is also being pushed in radio spots in Los Angeles and San Francisco paid for by Enterprise Florida, a public-private economic development agency.
That's some big talk for someone whose past fishing trips to the Golden State have not paid off. Scott's claims are dubious as well. The 700,000 figure comes from a quick and dirty calculation by a deregulation-minded Washington, D.C.-based think tank, American Action Forum. Yes, there will likely be some negative effects of hiking the minimum wage to $15 by 2022. But many experts argue that such costs will be offset by other gains in the economy. A study by UC Berkeley's Labor Center, for example, concludes that the wage hike will result in no net job loss in L.A.
Floridians might be better served if their governor used his taxpayer-funded trip west as a learning opportunity. Surely there's a lesson for him in why — despite having the highest state income tax rates in the U.S., despite its famously progressive labor policies, despite having the toughest pollution laws in the nation — California continues to create so many jobs that governors of other states can't help but try to spirit them away.