The state of Connecticut isn’t happy with Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott’s attempt to lure businesses there to the Sunshine State. The Hartford Courant said so in an editorial this week:
Here’s some advice for Florida Gov. Rick Scott: Go back to Florida and stay there.
Mr. Scott trolled Connecticut on Monday, suggesting residents “give up ... capitulate, and come to Florida and make it easier on yourselves.”
What, exactly, makes Florida a better place to live? Is it the alligators? The suffocating humidity? The higher rates of poverty and violent crime? The traffic?
Is it Mickey Mouse?
With all due respect, Mr. Scott, no thanks. Promises of a better climate and pictures of palm trees are nice, but there’s more to a state than its shrubbery.
Peel the lemon, and the truth is obvious: Florida can’t compare to Connecticut.
Connecticut beats Florida in median income, percent of children attending preschool, percent of high schoolers graduating on time, percent with a college education (44.7 percent, compared to 36.7 percent in Florida), civic engagement, volunteerism and more, according to a recent study. Florida has more poverty, more violent crime and more disconnected youth, the study found.
Even the commute is worse in Florida (an average of 26.4 minutes, compared to 25.4 minutes in Connecticut). A recent Miami Herald editorial begged drivers to consider using turn signals.
Those who have ranked states and cities in terms of quality of life consistently put Connecticut near the top. U.S. News & World Report ranked Connecticut the 12th-best state to live. Florida ranked No. 24.
Yes, Connecticut’s economy is having a difficult time of it recently, and perhaps Mr. Scott thinks that will make it easier to pick off a few more residents. Florida is already a common destination for people leaving Connecticut, just behind New York and Massachusetts.
Other than its warm winters, though, Florida’s only real selling point is its unique economy. Largely thanks to tourists, more than 60 percent of Florida’s revenue comes from sales taxes, the highest rate in the nation, according to census data — allowing it to avoid state income taxes. Connecticut, on the other hand, relies on income tax for nearly half its revenue, among the highest rates.
Combined with Florida’s climate, the promise of no state income or inheritance tax is, unquestionably, alluring to many. Connecticut can be expensive. Is it worth it?
There are the intangibles, the personal preferences. Connecticut folks might have a fondness for a crisp autumn day, but it’s understandable that others could prefer the warm sands of the Florida beaches.
Some might prefer Florida’s utter lack of hills. Hurricanes can also provide excitement.
Florida has its own financial challenges, especially regarding school funding. Another Herald editorial complained that “state funding for public schools still lags the national average of $10,600 [per pupil], at just over $7,000.
That’s a disgrace for the third-largest state in the nation.” Connecticut ranks near the top in per-pupil spending.
And even though some 53,000 Connecticut residents moved to Florida between 2010 and 2014, it is by no means a one-way street. The census bureau estimates that 32,774 people moved to Connecticut from Florida during that same time. Many who do take up residence in Florida do so only long enough to qualify for the tax break.
Clearly, not everything is perfect in paradise.
Mr. Scott is probably right when he claims that some businesses might have an easier time in Florida than Connecticut, and the local tax burdens here can be hard to bear.
But when it comes to raising a family and quality of life, Connecticut is hard to beat.
Mr. Scott, head back to Florida and solve your own problems. Don’t try to make ours worse.
© 2017, Hartford Courant