Fred Grimm

Florida’s ‘jobs governor’ wastes chance to exploit bigotry

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks during an interview at the governor’s mansion in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 12, 2016. McCrory says he wants to change a new state law that prevents people from suing over discrimination in state court, but he's not challenging a measure regarding bathroom access for transgender people.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory makes remarks during an interview at the governor’s mansion in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 12, 2016. McCrory says he wants to change a new state law that prevents people from suing over discrimination in state court, but he's not challenging a measure regarding bathroom access for transgender people. AP

Florida’s job-poacher-in-chief has himself a major opportunity.

Gov. Rick Scott has spent considerable effort trying to steal businesses away from rival states. He has made overtures to corporations in California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Illinois, Kentucky, Connecticut and New Jersey, suggesting they relocate to low-tax Florida. He tried to lure CEOs at Facebook, Apple and Google to come our way. He even took a (futile) run at Yale University.

Scott’s efforts haven’t exactly set off a Florida stampede among out-of-state operations. Last year, he enticed a Kentucky company that provides support services for commercial and military aircraft to bring its 40 jobs to Miramar (in return for $160,000 in tax breaks).

A couple of years ago, Florida snatched the Hertz headquarters and 700 jobs away from New Jersey (for incentives totaling $19 million).

But generally, relocation has been a tough sell. Businesses don’t seem so anxious to abandon commitments to those other states.

Until now. It’s time for Scott to go after North Carolina and its bone-headed ways. Plenty of vulnerable jobs are there to be filched.

Just this week, Deutsche Bank halted plans to create 250 positions at a new tech center in Cary, North Carolina. Last week, PayPal canceled plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte. And another 400 jobs went poof.

Braeburn Pharmaceuticals announced it was “extremely disappointed” with North Carolina — so much for a plant expansion with 52 good-paying jobs

More than 80 chief executives sent a letter expressing their displeasure with North Carolina, including those coveted CEOs at Facebook, Apple and Google. The head of Charlotte-based Bank of America signed the letter.

North Carolina’s jobs are ripe for the stealing. Best of all, the governor won’t have to squander taxpayer money on incentives. He just needs to promise corporate America that Florida’s political leaders — unlike their bigoted counterparts in North Carolina — will not tolerate discrimination.

Easiest job program ever. Just rebuke the repugnant law that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed last month requiring transgender people to use only the restroom for the gender indicated on their birth certificates. (It also overrules local ordinances banning LGBT discrimination.)

If bigotry is costing North Carolina jobs, rejecting bigotry should have the opposite effect on Florida. While Scott’s at it, he can repudiate Mississippi’s even more Draconian law that allows county clerks to refuse same-sex marriage licenses and allows businesses to fire LGBT workers.

Sadly, the Scott administration hasn’t been so forward thinking, either. Attorney General Pam Bondi wasted considerable taxpayer money in her losing court fight against gay marriage. Last month, Scott signed a tepid but symbolic law that allows pastors to opt-out of gay marriage ceremonies. The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that the Florida Department of Children and Families has abandoned foster-care policies designed to protect gay and transgender kids, including a ban on so-called conversion therapy.

Rick Scott may not grasp the cruelty behind discriminatory policies, but surely he, of all people, can see that they’re job killers.

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