TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Florida Gov. Rick Scott has drawn fire over the last few months in his repeated attempts to recruit businesses away from other states. But Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear lashed out directly at Scott this week, sending a letter that called the Republican’s efforts “crude” and in “poor taste.”
“Although I am well aware of the competitive environment that is inevitable in economic development, I admit that I was shocked and dismayed at your crude method of recruitment,” wrote Beshear in a letter he sent to Scott on Monday.
When asked about it, Scott was unapologetic.
“My job is to let everyone know how well we’re doing and I’m going to continue to do that,” Scott told The Associated Press.
Scott has sent letters to business owners in several states contending that they should book a “one way” ticket to Florida to take advantage of the state’s tax climate and business environment. Since becoming governor Scott has pushed to cut the state’s taxes although the Republican-led Legislature has refused to cut taxes as deeply as he wanted.
The letters have gone out to business owners in nine states with Democratic governors. Some of the letters have gone to businesses that are highly unlikely to move such as Apple, Facebook and Google in California.
His letter to Kentucky businesses were mailed in June. Earlier this month Scott sent letters to businesses in Massachusetts. In some of the letters Scott has emphasized that decreases in Florida’s unemployment rate demonstrate the state’s healthy economy and good climate for business.
Economic development officials in several states have criticized the effort. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in April called efforts by Scott and other states to poach businesses “showboating.”
But Beshear may be the first governor who has responded forcefully and directly to Scott.
He not only criticized Scott’s effort, his letter said that education rankings used by the GOP governor were misleading and in one instance “completely false.” Beshear added that Scott also omitted mention of other stats that would have showed Kentucky with an edge over Florida.
Beshear said he has not had to criticize, or even insult, other states in an effort to market Kentucky.
“My advice to you, as a fellow governor, is to focus on your state and its people, and I’ll focus on my mine,” he states at the end of his letter.
Scott disputed the suggestion that he has used misleading education numbers in his recruitment efforts: “The numbers we put out we believe in.” The former health care chain executive defended his approach, saying he was emphasizing to business leaders the type of information they use when making business relocation decisions.
The governor also insisted that he was not just targeting states run by Democrats.
He noted that Florida earlier this year was able to convince rental car company Hertz to move its headquarters out of New Jersey where Republican Chris Christie is governor.