Florida governor tells residents of other states: 'Move here!'

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2015 5:07 PM

By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - Florida Governor Rick Scott will kick off his second term on Tuesday with a blunt warning that he intends to poach people and jobs from other large states that have relatively higher taxes.

   “I have a message today to the people of New York, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and others: Move to Florida!” Scott said in prepared remarks released by his office on Monday.

“Over the next four years, I will be traveling to your states personally to recruit you here,” he said.

After decades of growth, Florida recently surpassed New York to become the third most populous U.S. state, behind California and Texas.

For Scott, a Republican, the trend reflects the state's appeal as a lower-tax destination. Florida does not levy a personal income tax, instead relying heavily on sales taxes.

With population growth among its major economic drivers, Florida was among the hardest-hit states during the national housing bust.

A political newcomer in 2010, Scott spent his first term aggressively cutting business taxes and regulations, while reducing the size of government. He won a bitterly contested re-election fight in November against former Governor Charlie Crist.

His inaugural showcases the political influence of Florida, the nation's largest electoral swing state.

Republican Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas are among dignitaries expected at Tuesday's noon inaugural ceremony on the steps of Florida’s Capitol.

They are potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. State party officials did not know if former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, another Republican considering a White House bid, would attend.

In excerpts of his prepared remarks, Scott focused on states that voted Democratic in the 2012 presidential election as the key targets of his business-recruitment efforts.

“The people that left New York and Illinois had one thing in common,” Scott said in his inaugural address text. “Their number-one destination was Florida.”

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Peter Cooney)