Rick Scott Warns Six Governors About Rising Debt

Last week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent letters to the governors of Illinois, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Delaware, Connecticut and New Jersey–all Democrats save Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Mass., outlining his concerns about rising debt in their states and showcasing the actions he took as governor to turn around Florida’s economy.

Below is the letter Scott sent to Gov. Phil Murphy, D-NJ, on the matter. Letters to the other five governors were similar to the one Scott sent Murphy.

Dear Governor Murphy:

I am concerned for the financial wellbeing of your state and the burgeoning share the taxpayers of New Jersey would have to contribute to pay down your debts. As you are no doubt aware, the non-partisan think tank Truth in Accounting recently released its annual “Financial State of the States” report, and New Jersey continues to rank among the most debt-ridden states in the country. In fact, New Jersey’s debt represents a burden of $65,100 for each taxpayer in your state. I am sure you agree that is alarming, and I urge you to take decisive action to ease the burden on your residents and lower your state’s debt before it’s too late.

When I was elected governor of Florida in 2010, our state faced enormous challenges: rising rates of unemployment, growing state debt, thousands of burdensome regulations stifling our small businesses, and taxes increased by more than $2 billion in the previous four years before I took office.

In two terms as governor, we turned Florida from a state in financial freefall to the best state to live, work, and raise a family. We created nearly 1.7 million new jobs during that period, driving down our state unemployment rate from 10.8 percent in 2010, to 3.3 percent in 2018. Most importantly, we paid down more than $10 billion in state debt for the first time in decades, leading all three national credit rating agencies to give Florida the highest credit rating of AAA in 2018, and thereby saving our taxpayers even more money through lower interest rates on our remaining debt.

We achieved success in Florida by recognizing that government cannot tax its way out of debt. It’s no secret or mystery how we turned things around: we eliminated wasteful government spending; we slashed nearly 5,400 burdensome rules and regulations, and lowered professional license fees that imposed unnecessary costs on doing business; and we cut taxes nearly 100 times, saving Florida’s families and businesses more than $10 billion. Notably, we accomplished all of that while making record investments in Florida’s transportation infrastructure, and increasing total funding for K-12 schools and our state colleges and universities.

The answer is clear: when government lives within its means and fosters an environment to allow students, families, and small businesses to thrive, economic prosperity will follow. By my final year in office in 2018, Florida’s gross domestic product had grown by more than $250 billion, and exceeded $1 trillion for the first time; meanwhile, our revenues rose from $69.15 billion in FY2011 to $89.3 billion in FY2018, all while reducing taxes and fees on hardworking Floridians.

Our national debt is also a serious and growing problem, but unlike many of my colleagues in Washington, I have not lost the fiscally responsible principles that helped turn Florida around. I recently voted against the Senate’s massive two-year budget proposal because it fails to rein in Washington’s spending spree, and adds trillions of dollars to our national debt. Additionally, I have partnered with the Heritage Foundation to create my “Washington Waste Wednesdays” series, highlighting the numerous ways that Washington is recklessly spending Americans’ tax dollars. Meanwhile, I have filed several pieces of legislation to stop our runaway federal spending, from eliminating the automatic pay raises for members of Congress, to requiring advance contracts for disaster recovery services in order to avoid abusive billing practices in the aftermath of a natural disaster. As a U.S. senator, I remain laser-focused on identifying and eliminating wasteful federal spending and stand firmly against raising taxes or imposing new fees.

Of course, you are free to continue accumulating state debt, imposing burdensome regulations on your businesses, and taxing New Jersey’s families to pay for your out-of-control spending, and Florida will stand ready to welcome new residents fleeing your state for the brighter economic future of the Sunshine State.

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