By Michael Polimeni, COO, Polimeni International
Association for a Better Long Island executive board member
Florida Governor Rick Scott didn’t know it but he had a New Yorker in his midst during his recent announcement about jobs, economic growth, investment and the creation of a Florida business climate that seeks to seduce the northeast corporate owner weary of red tape and burdensome taxes.
Most instructive to this observer was how he invoked New York and California several times during his remarks to champion the fact that unemployment in his state had just gone below the national average of 7.7%. He cited the tax rates of those two states and their costs of living, along with his own business friendly policies, as reasons for Florida’s economic strength. He then proceeded to shake the hand of every manufacturing employee in sight, and there were hundreds of them.
Even if one were to dismiss this as a political stump speech, there is no denying that Florida’s Governor was on message, delivered good news to his “domestic” audience while sending a message to every corporate owner outside of Florida who had just computed his personal and professional tax burden.
The reality is Florida, and other low-cost states, are capable of picking off companies and picking up jobs from states like New York because we have failed to appreciate just how competitive those other states have become and how our own insular self-interests have blunted New York’s ability to be agile or leverage our resources. For example, the ability to transmit low cost hydropower to Long Island would singlehandedly reduce the cost of doing business in the bi-county region. Upstate politicians have consistently blocked that option while their own manufacturing base withered and died years ago. Even if upstate communities placed a surcharge to “export” those kilowatts it would still be cheaper for Long Island than its current LIPA / Shoreham burden while allowing upstate communities to enjoy the benefits of an energy bonus.
And then there is the not insignificant New York assault on successful entrepreneurs by the state’s decision to sustain a penalty tax on those earning more than $2 million. It is an invitation to an exodus that Florida’s Governor would be only too happy to welcome. In the end, Rick Scott is betting we have neither the imagination nor the political will to change how we go about paying for government or lowering the cost of living. He will see it as a means of gaining a national platform for how one Governor grows a state’s economy out of a national recession.
We should deny him the opportunity to use New York as his victim of choice.