Op ed submitted on July 4, 2017 by Sean Goldrick, who served two terms as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation. He lives in Riverside.
Last month, Republican state representatives Fred Camillo of Greenwich, Gail Lavielle, and state senator and gubernatorial-hopeful Toni Boucher, participated in a rally in Norwalk at which Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott urged Connecticut business owners to leave Connecticut and move to Florida.
Scott told business owners, “Go ahead and give up … capitulate, and come to Florida and make it easier on yourselves.”
An impressed Senator Boucher told Scott, “You’re enticing me.”
Let’s take a closer look at this “successful governor.”
Rick Scott grew fabulously wealthy by creating Columbia/HCA, a chain of for-profit hospitals and surgical centers. Under Scott’s leadership, Columbia/HCA engaged in massive, systemic fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. Scott was forced to resign, and his company paid a $1.7 billion fine. Though Scott grew rich defrauding federal health programs, he refused to implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion for low- and moderate-income Floridians, denying a million Floridians health insurance. Today, there are more uninsured people in Florida than in any state except Texas.
While Governor Mallloy and Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill have worked tirelessly to make voting more accessible for Connecticut’s citizens, The Guardian wrote, “You would be hard pressed to find a more diligent disciple of voter suppression than Governor Rick Scott.” A federal court ruled that his purge from the voter rolls of 180,000 Floridians, many of them Hispanic, was illegal. The 2011 voter suppression bill he signed into law sharply curtailed the ability of non-partisan voter registration organizations, including the League of Women Voters, to register voters in Florida, especially impacting minority voters. Further, Scott’s Florida is one of just three states that maintain the Jim Crow-era practice of disenfranchising for life anyone convicted of a felony, resulting in 1.5 million Floridians being banned from voting.
Racist voter suppression, denial of healthcare to a million Floridians, corporate fraud. This is the man Representative Camillo considers a “successful governor.”
Let’s compare that “successful state” with Connecticut, which Representative Camillo calls “a national embarrassment.”
Connecticut boasts the 4th highest median family income in the nation; Florida’s? 9th lowest. The Ann E. Casey Foundation ranks Connecticut 6th best for children’s well-being; Florida? 10th worst. Connecticut ranks 3rd highest for children’s health; Florida? 6th worst. US News & World Reports ranks the quality of Connecticut’s pre-K-12 education system 4th best in the nation; Florida’s 6th worst. Connecticut pays its teachers the 3rd highest salaries in the country; Florida’s teacher salaries are among the nation’s lowest. During the Great Recession, Connecticut not only held the line on K-12 education, it increased funding. Rick Scott slashed funding for K-12 and higher education, implementing some of the deepest cuts to education of any state. Connecticut today spends nearly twice as much per pupil on K-12 instruction than does Florida.
The Constitution State’s deep commitment to education shows in our adult population. Connecticut ranks 4th in the nation for the percentage of its population holding college degrees, and 3rd highest for residents with advanced degrees. Florida? A lowly 36th.
The Institute for Policy Research ranks Connecticut 4th best for the status of women; Florida? 37th. The National Women’s Law Center estimates that the percentage of women in Rick Scott’s Florida who are uninsured is nearly triple that of Connecticut.
Though it doesn’t levy a state income tax, it’s not true that Florida is a “low tax” state. According to a study by EY (formerly “Ernst & Young”) for the Council on State Taxation, Connecticut’s total effective business tax rate (“TEBTR”) of 3.5% ranks as the lowest of any state in the nation. Florida’s, by contrast, comes in at 4.9%. I wonder if Rick Scott and those Republican Connecticut legislators urging business owners to leave told them they would have to shell out nearly 50% more in taxes on their businesses?
Let’s hope that Connecticut voters never give Representative Camillo and his fellow Republicans the opportunity to destroy our state by making it into a Florida-style “success.”