The Great Scott of Florida
By JOHN FUND
During his tenure, Florida has cut taxes year after year, seen the highest public-high-school graduation rates in 13 years, created 1.26 million private-sector jobs since 2011, and had the lowest crime rate in 45 years. Unemployment is a third what it was when he took office in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown. Housing prices went up 15 percent in Florida last year, continuing the state’s recovery from a housing bust.
Scott also touts his deregulation record. “Burdensome regulations are the No. 1 reason our economy doesn’t provide enough jobs for everyone,” he told me at a New York lunch last year. “In Florida we have cut taxes, but ending 3,000 regulations is what’s made our economy take off. If I decide to go to Washington, I want to help President Trump continue to take the leg irons off of this economy and reinvent government.”
Scott says his persistent efforts to make Florida a business-friendly mecca have paid off politically. In 2014, he won 38 percent of voters under the age of 25 and the same percentage among Hispanic voters — two groups Republicans have struggled with.
There’s no doubt that Scott’s policies have left the state far better off than high-tax liberal bastions. Florida gained 350,000 new residents, many of them economic escapees from high-tax California, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Scott says the liberal governors of those states are the best advertisements for their citizens picking up stakes and moving to Florida.
Conservatives feel good about Scott taking his record to the voters this November. Ron DeSantis, a Republican congressman who is running to succeed Scott as governor, told me this weekend that Scott will also be able to pummel Nelson, the Democratic incumbent senator, for his votes against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and against the Trump tax cut.
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