Stinking, shrinking California vs. fantastic, flourishing Florida — A tale of two states

The sun shines in both states but it shines its light on two very different realities

Let's look at three recent newspaper headlines, all seemingly unrelated. But are they really? I think not.

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Witness the tale of three recent stories:

FLORIDA PULLS IN BILLIONS AMID HIGH-TAX STATE EXODUS

“I think that California can serve as a great example … something the rest of the country looks up to.” --  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

“Today’s groundbreaking is just another indication that Florida remains the best state in the nation to start or grow a business.” Governor Ron DeSantis, hailing Spirit Airlines’ decision to locate a new headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, beating out Dallas, Texas.

“(Florida) greeted the largest number of U-Haul® moving trucks entering its borders versus exiting them, establishing a new No. 1 growth state for the first time in four years…." California ranked 49th. -- U-Haul annual growth survey.

Bloomberg's notion that the now-tarnished “Golden State” can be a model for anyone would be laughable if it weren’t for the tragedies driving out desperate citizens all over that state.

BILLIONAIRES BOLT TO FLORIDA AMID HIGH-TAX STATE EXODUS 

That desperation is demonstrated not only by California’s near-last place finish in the U-Haul survey, but also its rental rates: one-way U-Haul trucks from leading California destinations to Texas cities cost four times those heading the other way.

Who can blame Californians – and where to start with all the reasons they’re voting with their feet in deserting one of the most scenically beautiful, and once most prosperous, jurisdictions in the greatest nation on earth?

How about the highest sales tax rates in the nation which exceed 10 percent in parts of the state. Then there's the second-highest gas tax at nearly 50 cents/gallon and overall gas prices that are the highest in the nation.

How about the highest state income tax topping at 13.3 percent or the average family state income tax at approximately 10 percent. -- Californians who dare to drive, own property or earn a living are saddled with this huge collective burden.

Then there are basic services (like street-cleaning) which are fast becoming a secondary priority behind liberal social experiments that run counter to the American ethos of working hard and getting ahead and mandating protections to illegal aliens through sanctuary city declarations to the detriment of legal immigrants and American citizens. How about underperforming schools with barely half of the students achieving reading standards and far less in math, and achievement scores far below the national average.

CALIFORNIA GIG ECONOMY LAW COULD PUSH FREELANCERS TO FLEE THE STATE

Not to mention regulatory schemes putting livable housing out of reach. The treatment of mental health and other core issues that cause homelessness have been replaced with lax attitudes toward the resulting homeless that spawn shantytowns everywhere from business districts to residential neighborhoods, with piles of trash, needles and even human feces overwhelming cleaning crews. All of this has resulted in shockingly unsanitary conditions like the waste being tracked on San Francisco’s "poop map" and public health crises like typhus not encountered in generations.

Then there are the wildfires caused by layers of mismanagement resulting in potentially years of blackouts that have literally plunged Californians back into the Dark Ages. How about crumbling infrastructure on top of all this while billions are diverted to a now-abandoned bullet train to nowhere, and poor and politicized water planning is denying much-needed water to farmers and ranchers in the nation’s breadbasket.

Democratic-dominated state and city governments obsessed with “progressive” notions including, courtesy of the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal,  a recent litany of the City by the Bay’s looniness: “bann(ing) fast-food restaurants from including toys with most children’s meals; prohibit(ing) city-funded travel by local employees to 22 pro-life states; rais(ing) the minimum wage from $9.79 to $15.59 an hour; and, after banning plastic bags in 2007, first set(ting) a 10-cent fee for each nonreusable bag at stores, and then a 25-cent fee per bag.”

And of course, the far-left windmill-tilting on climate change, gun control and criminal justice reform (read: not arresting lawless thugs) that prompted Bloomberg’s remarks.

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Contrast Florida, where two decades of conservative Republican leadership in the governor’s mansion and unbroken GOP control of the legislature are attracting new citizens and businesses. There is no state income tax, there are low effective corporate income taxes and there is a favorable regulatory environment. As a result, Florida's unemployment rate is currently near historic lows.

Stir a high quality of life into the mix, too. Steadily rising student test scores and graduation rates and a narrowing of the achievement gaps between lower- and high-income students also make Florida a great state for families, thanks in large part to expanding school choice efforts that increase freedom and create competition even as overall education spending is expanded and reinforced. Plus, Florida boasts a state university system ranked first in the nation.

Add to that gubernatorial leadership that is laser-focused on the needs and priorities of citizens, including higher teacher pay, increased school safety, improved immigration enforcement, and environmental protection, including taking on the blue and green algae crises.

In short, the state being held up by elitist Michael Bloomberg as an “example” is burning, parched, disorder-ridden, over-taxed, overregulated, underperforming, stinking and shrinking. While the one being effectively governed by Ron DeSantis and a legislature fully in touch with its constituents is growing and flourishing.

No wonder Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman, is at just 14 percent in the latest Democratic presidential poll – while Governor Ron DeSantis is soaring with an incredibly-high approval rating at 65 percent (in a state with a sizable Democratic population understand that this is a huge number).

The three articles quoted at the beginning of this op-ed all reflect the same reality. The sun shines in both states but it shines its light on two very different realities. It shines much more brightly in Florida thanks to conservative policy and good governance.

Ed Pozzuoli is CEO of Tripp Scott and former chairman of Jeb Bush for governor.

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