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Florida’s Governor Wants YOU to Escape Winter…And Taxes

Daily Ticker

Florida Governor Rick Scott visited the New York Stock Exchange this week to promote the sunshine state as THE place for business and families.

"Our economy is doing extremely well," Scott told The Daily Ticker. "We have a budget surplus so my job is to give it back to consumers in the state." He intends to cut taxes and fees by $500 million in the current legislative session.

Since he was elected Governor two and a half years ago, Scott has raised the exemption on corporate income taxes (which he wants to eliminate entirely) and cut sales tax on manufacturing equipment. He says he's cut taxes 24 times and repealed 2,800 state regulations on businesses and individuals as part of his "It's Your Money Tax Cut Agenda." And Florida has no personal state income tax.

Related: Meredith Whitney's 7 Best States for Business and Economic Growth

Scott wants to lure more people and companies to Florida, like Hertz (HTZ), which is relocating its headquarters from northern New Jersey to the Naples-Fort Meyers area, and Deutsche Bank (DB), which has moved some investment bankers and traders to Jacksonville from New York. "Five hundred people are moving to Florida every day," says Scott. "Our taxes are lower, there's less regulation and we're the gateway to Latin America."

Related: Here's the "Enormous Problem" Facing States: Ravitch

Scott credits his policies for much of the rebound in Florida's economy. The sunshine state has a 7% unemployment rate, lower than the 7.3% national average; a budget surplus for the first time in six years and state officials have paid down $3.5 billion in state debt. Fitch Ratings affirmed the state's AAA bond rating in August.

There's no such thing as a free lunch, so what's the tradeoff? In not levying a personal income tax, what does the state forgo in the way of government services?

"We watch how we spend our money," Scott claims. "Our state budget is about half of New York's for the same amount of people." He cites the "highest transportation and education budget in the history of the state" as examples that show key government services aren't suffering.

But one secret seems to be the revenue Scott has been able to "import" from other states. Scott says "it helps when more people move to your state," and by his accounts, 500 people are doing so a day.

Whether these policies will continue will depend in part on whether Scott wins re-election 2014. Scott won the first time with strong Tea Party support but once in office he adopted some policies that angered some Tea Party supporters including a raise for public school teachers and expansion of Medicaid, which was rejected by the state legislature.

Former Governor Charlie Crist, once a Republican, then an independent, has announced he's running for Governor again, but this time as a Democrat. Let's hope there are no hanging chads.

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