Across the Nation

Recruiting Residents: One State’s Loss Is Another’s Gain

By  | 

Florida Governor Rick Scott spent two days in Philadelphia earlier this year on a mission: recruiting residents and encouraging Pennsylvania’s business leaders to move to Florida. Scott wants to make Florida the leading destination for jobs, and migrating businesses from Pennsylvania to Florida is one way to do that. The lure? Unlike Florida, Pennsylvania is a unionized and high-tax state, making it less business-friendly than the Sunshine State.

Why Buy a One-Way Ticket to Florida?

Scott met with job creators and business leaders in Philadelphia to lay out why Pennsylvania businesses should move to Florida, citing the various attractions of working and living in the state, such as its warmer climate and decreasing crime rate. According to a news release from Governor Scott’s office, Scott wants them to “buy a one-way ticket to the Sunshine State.”

Scott traveled with state officials from the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Department of Education, Enterprise Florida (an economic development organization), and VISIT FLORIDA (Florida’s travel planning site). His pitch for recruiting residents was a harsh reminder of what’s to come: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed 20 percent income tax increase and 10 percent sales tax increase.

Florida, on the other hand, has seen a debt drop of $4 billion since 2010, and the state has less debt per capita than Pennsylvania. It’s also among the top travel destinations in the world, making it an attractive location for northern families and job creators. Florida also boasts no income taxes in comparison to Pennsylvania’s current flat income tax structure of 3.07 percent.

Thus far, at least one major company in Pennsylvania is considering taking Scott up on the offer.

Will Florida’s Job Prospects Hurt Pennsylvania?

Scott’s supporters see his business development strategy as a valuable proposition to boost the Florida economy. Wolf and other Pennsylvanians see it differently, however. According to Wolf, Scott’s move is more about poaching jobs from a state that’s already dealing with a stagnant economy. In other words, Scott’s political move only serves Florida while potentially harming Pennsylvania. Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, told Philly News that while he would prefer that decision makers focus on growing more jobs in their own state, Scott’s visit could be seen as an opportunity to learn from a non-Pennsylvanian where their focus should be.

According to IRS data collected from, Pennsylvania has already lost over $6 billion in AGI to Florida between 1992 and 2011. Given the tax environment in each state, the move is undoubtedly alluring for both business owners and workers alike. Only time will tell as Governor Scott focuses his attention on other states, such as Connecticut, California, Illinois, Maryland, and Minnesota, to encourage business leaders to start booking their one-way tickets.