National News

Nixon Picks Florida for Basketball, Missourians Pick Florida for Business

By  | 

With the NCAA men’s basketball tournament beginning earlier this week, men and women across the country (including even governors and the President) have been filling out their brackets and declaring who they believe will win it all. On Wednesday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced he had selected Florida to win the championship, while he had a team from his home state, Saint Louis University, losing in the first round. While the majority of Missourians put more faith in a sports team from their state, residents of the Show Me State pick Florida over Missouri in record numbers for economic reasons.

If Missouri were placed in an economic tournament similar to March Madness – let’s call it “Tax Madness” – the state would be hard-pressed to make it into the Sweet Sixteen round.  From 1992 to 2010, the number-one destination for Missouri’s working wealth has been Florida: $2.09 billion in adjusted gross income (AGI) has fled for the Sunshine State. In terms of population migration, 14,775 taxpayers left Missouri between 1985 and 2010. Florida, on the other hand, would make it to the championship every year, having seen total gains of almost $96 billion in net AGI and over 1.6 million taxpayers move into the state.

So why is Missouri getting beat by the “up-tempo offense”/pro-growth economy of Florida?

Well, Missouri puts a price on work from the first dollar residents earn, and continues to do so via 10 tax brackets with a top marginal rate of 6 percent. Conversely, Florida has no state income tax. Last year, Missouri lawmakers even tried to reduce the state income tax burden on residents, but Governor Nixon vetoed the legislation without providing an alternative. Instead, Governor Nixon called a special session to give tax breaks and incentives to Boeing with the hopes of bringing the aviation company to Missouri. (It didn’t work.)

The benefits of a lower tax burden are reflected in the job growth of each state for 2013. Missouri added 40,300 jobs (a 1.5 percent increase from 2012) while Florida added 192,900 jobs (a 2.58 percent increase from 2012), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Businesses and entrepreneurs, especially from Missouri, recognize and understand that Florida’s economic policies will allow them to maximize not only their total earning potential, but their working potential as well.

So we can’t fault Governor Nixon for picking a team from the Sunshine State to become this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Champions. Whether it’s basketball, weather, tax-friendliness, or business climate, Florida is the heavy favorite for all categories. By following the blueprint Florida has set forth through its economic policies, Missouri could become a championship contender. Governor Nixon should put more stock into his constituents’ willingness to work and prosper. Case in point: The Saint Louis University Billikens overcame a 14-point deficit in the closing minutes to ultimately win in overtime and advance to the next round of the tournament. Perhaps Governor Nixon can learn a valuable lesson from that game.