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Rick Scott tells ‘Morning Joe’ audience that ‘Florida is on fire’ as he attempts to woo Connecticut CEO’s

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Since being elected in 2010, Rick Scott has never been shy about traveling across the country to try to recruit companies to do business in the Sunshine State, regardless of whether he’s been invited. Earlier this year he went cold-calling to CEOs in California and Pennsylvania, and today he visits another Blue state — Connecticut.

In advance of his two-day set of meetings, the governor teamed up with Enterprise Florida last week to cut a radio ad touting the tour, but he also was given five minutes on cable news this morning to make a pitch to Nutmeg State CEOs and those across the country as well in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program with hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

“Connecticut is a beautiful state. Wonderful people,” Scott addressed Scarborough, a Connecticut resident who has blasted recent tax hikes in his state. “But your children, and your grandchildren when you have them, are not going to be able to get a job, because they’re ruining the business climate in Connecticut. You know, we’ve added 879,000 jobs in a little more than four years, because our taxes are lower, we have less regulation. We loooove companies in our state, and we’d love of course Mika and all of you to come down here.”

“Well, it’s not going to happen,” Scarborough said with a smile, saying that his children are in schools in Connecticut and he has no desire to move back to Florida, though he says he frequently returns to visit his home state.

But there’s no doubt that there are some business executives who would at least like to have some leverage with Connecticut lawmakers and are open to being recruited.

General Electric has its headquarters in Connecticut and CEO Jeff Immelt recently notified staff members he would begin exploring options for moving the company out of state.  The Connecticut legislature maintained a temporary corporate tax hike in its most recent budget, keeping the rate at nine percent.

“No customer is going to say, ‘I’ll pay you more money for your product or service because you pay higher taxes or caused you to comply with unnecessary regulation, because it cost you a lot of money to get a permit, or because you can’t find the right work force,’ ” Scott said when asked how he can appeal to a CEO.

“So it’s education,” he continued. “It’s workforce. It’s income taxes. Property taxes. Sales taxes. Attitude. Does your government at the state level, at the local level, do they help your business? Do they help you attract the right employees? We’re doing all those things in Florida, that’s why last year 250,000 people moved to our state. We have almost 300,000 job openings in our state. Our workforce is growing. We’ve got the number two most number of aerospace and aviation establishments, three most number of technology companies. This state is on fire. We are really doing well.”

Scott was noticeably less expansive when asked who he favors in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, saying that it’s still too early in the campaign. When asked if he preferred Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, Scott added Florida residents Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump to the mix, (Trump has an estate in Palm Beach County) He ignored Brzezinski’s query as to whether Trump should be considered a serious player in the race.

“I like all the Republican candidates,” he responded blandly.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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