Goldrick: Camillo’s Praise for Florida Governor Scott is Misplaced

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.”

Representative Camillo later wrote that he attended “to hear what a successful governor from a successful state had to say.”

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.”

See also:

Camillo: Connecticut Dems Are in Denial; Florida’s Example Should be Emulated  (June 26, 2017)

 

  • Maureen Therese Sheehan

    Since Fred Camillo is so impressed by Rick Scott and his Florida, I would strongly suggest he himself move to the state of Florida – immediately.

  • Susan McHale

    So why is CT is such poor shape? As stated as a example (Florida), the rich are doing well, but what about the CT cities? Taxes are at a record high, so why aren’t there more signs of a financial recovery? Another corporation moving, again? The fragile environment, the crumbling infrastructure, growing drug epidemic, and how about the squeeze on healthcare? I thought Democrats fixed all those things? Anyway, we should not compare ourselves with Florida, that’s a low bar.

    • Maureen Therese Sheehan

      Exactly. It is low, which is why Camillo’s comment that Florida is doing so well is bull.

      • Susan McHale

        It will be interesting to see who will follow Gov. Malloy.

    • Sean

      The point is that the meme that Connecticut is a disaster is simply not true. For example, Republicans have made a lot out of the fact that Connecticut was facing a deficit for the past fiscal year, and that it is facing a deficit in FY18. But half of all the states fell into a deficit in FY17, and two-thirds of the states are facing deficits in FY18. Massachusetts saw revenues fall $400 million in April over last year. Indeed, the carbon states like Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, are experiencing some of the biggest deficits.

      Also keep in mind that Connecticut is very unusual in not having county government. So, for example, we are one of just two states that take 100% responsibility for teacher pensions at the state level. Virtually every other state funds its teacher pensions at the school district level. That adds 7% to our budget. Same with school construction. Nearly a quarter of bonded debt goes for school construction, which is far higher than the norm for most other states that fund building at the county or municipal level.

      The reality is very different from what we’ve been told.

      • Susan McHale

        Massachusetts has been having a boom time. You should see the cost of healthcare there…it is fantastic. Their premiums, unlike ours have gone down. Same with car insurances. Cost have decreased!!!! It’s because of their long range planning and the continued manufacturing jobs/incentives/tax breaks! Somehow they have come out way ahead of CT. NY of course has masses of wealth, much of it funneled into our town. I’m just frustrated by our reputation. We’re losing Aetna to NY.

  • Sean

    I should add that according to Phoenix Marketing’s State of U.S. Wealth 2016, Connecticut continues to rank second in the nation in terms of the percentage of the population that are millionaires. Florida, by contrast, was ranked 10th highest of the fifty states ten years ago. Now? 34th.

    So much for that “successful state.”