Politics

Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, has set his sights on Kentucky.

Scott recently announced he would visit Kentucky this month to encourage businesses in the state to relocate or expand to Florida. But he won’t be getting a warm reception from Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

Scott’s pitch to Kentucky businesses is that Florida has a better business climate. In a news release earlier this week, Scott said “Florida’s business climate is better than Kentucky’s in almost every way.”

“Kentucky leaders continue blocking Kentucky counties from becoming right-to-work areas,” he said. “Kentucky’s pro-union, big government policies hurt Kentucky businesses’ ability to create and retain jobs.”

Right-to-work laws eliminate the requirement that workers pay union dues as a condition of their employment. Twenty-five states and Guam currently have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Beshear said Scott is going to be wasting his time.

In a statement from his office Tuesday, the governor said, “you would think with the difficult problems facing Florida today that Gov. Rick Scott would have better things to do to keep him occupied.”

“However, if he wants to waste his time coming to Kentucky to try and convince our businesses to come to Florida,” Beshear continued, “then come ahead, because he will have no success.”

Kenny Colston, a spokesman for the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said there is little evidence that right-to-work laws create more jobs. He said Kentucky’s economy has outpaced those in nearby Virginia and Tennessee — both right-to-work states — when it comes to manufacturing jobs since the recession.

“Right-to-work laws don’t grow jobs,” Colston said. “Not in manufacturing. Not in other sectors.”

Scott tried something similar here two years ago, when he sent letters to businesses in Kentucky inviting them to the Sunshine State. At the time, Beshear called the letters a “crude method of recruitment.”

Colston said he thinks this latest recruitment effort is a political stunt.

“You know, this is attention seeking for one reason or another,” he said. “I don’t know the governor and I don’t know why he is coming here, but I know the last time he came here he got a pretty strong rebuke from our governor, Steve Beshear.”

As CEO of a hospital chain in the mid-’90s, Scott relocated the company’s headquarters from Louisville to Tennessee. He publicly criticized Kentucky’s tax policies at the time.

Scott’s effort to recruit businesses from other states has ruffled feathers in the past, and he’s been doing it most of the time he has been in office. In 2013, The Tampa Bay Times noted that this strategy of bad-mouthing states to recruit business there would upset the governors of those states.

Most of the states Scott has targeted have Democratic governors.