LOS ANGELES (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott was looking for jobs in Los Angeles on Monday.
Not for himself, but for his state.
The two-term Republican is the latest in a string of out-of-state governors to try to raid businesses from California, home to nearly 40 million people and by itself one of the world’s largest economies.
Scott made his pitch to business leaders in the city’s San Fernando Valley, depicting Florida as a lower-tax, lower-regulation alternative to California. He argued Florida has a stronger educational system compared with its West Coast counterpart, and it’s a better deal for families, whether sending a child to college or paying taxes.
In particular, he said he wanted his home state to become the shipping capital of the world, referring repeatedly to a lengthy labor dispute between West Coast dockworkers and their employers that all but halted international trade through Los Angeles and Long Beach, together the nation’s busiest ports.
“Florida is doing really well,” Scott boasted. “All we’ve done is run it like a business.”
Texas, Utah and Virginia leaders have also made trips to California in an attempt to poach jobs.
It’s not an idle concern for California Gov. Jerry Brown. California-based Tesla is building a massive battery plant in Nevada, and Toyota is transferring its U.S. headquarters and about 3,000 jobs from the Los Angeles suburbs to the outskirts of Dallas.
Brown’s office released a comment he made about Scott’s visit during a weekend interview, as well as figures suggesting that job relocations to other states barely register in the state economy.
“California is absolutely the number one state for job creation and economic growth. We’re growing faster than the nation. So, everybody wants to come to Silicon Valley, look at our biocom and look at our agriculture. So, he’ll find a few things here. I don’t find too many Californians going to Florida looking for jobs,” Brown said.
The appearance before about 100 people at an event organized by the Valley Industry & Commerce Association was Scott’s only public stop in a two-day swing through California. He’s spending most of his time meeting privately with company executives, in particular those involved in shipping.
He took a swipe at California’s higher tax rates for personal income —Florida has none — and businesses. “You have more taxes than I can imagine getting rid of,” he said.
Asked about the 2016 presidential race, Scott said he wasn’t running and intended to focus on job growth in Florida. As for Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, her election would mean “four more years of Barack Obama,” he said.