Guest post written by Jennifer Harris, CALACTX Spokesperson.
Florida governor Rick Scott recently announced his plans to visit Pennsylvania, among a handful of other states he’s targeted – New York, Illinois and California to start – as part of a strategy to lure businesses and jobs to Florida and boost the state’s economy. Scott’s pitch showcases Florida as a low-tax, lightly regulated destination where companies can thrive. Sound familiar? This is a play borrowed straight from Texas governor Rick Perry, known for his sweeping legal reform packages that gave Texas a “posterchild” status when it comes to creating a business-friendly environment.
States like New York, Illinois and California have treacherous legal environments chalk full of abusive lawsuits that increase prices and prevent businesses from being able to create new jobs. Governor Perry saw this as an opportunity to aggressively pursue companies based in these states and convince them to move to Texas.
While Governor Perry achieved impressive results for us in Texas, luring dozens of businesses to our state – including Toyota – Governor Scott’s plan overlooks one important factor, which Perry mentioned last week in his farewell address to the legislature: “Our formula for success is simple: keep taxes low, implement smart regulations, provide an educated workforce and stop lawsuit abuse at the courthouse.” It’s the last point – stopping lawsuit abuse – that Scott is forgetting, and it’s an issue that he’ll need to focus on if he plans to bring more jobs to Florida.
Without legal reform, Perry would not have been successful, and businesses never would have migrated to the Lone Star State. For Rick Scott and other governors seeking to attract businesses and create jobs, it is essential that they prioritize commonsense reform; otherwise, businesses face little protection from the rampant lawsuit abuse seen across the country. Florida has struggled in the last several years, partly because of the overly litigious environment. Between ADA abuse and suspicious relationships between personal injury lawyers and doctors, Floridians are constantly being victimized by lawsuits that take advantage of the legal system rather than acting as a route to justice.
Not all governors have missed this memo. Bruce Rauner, the governor of Illinois, released a plan to help the state create jobs and grow its economy, including adoption of meaningful legal reform. The plan calls for the amendment of certain Illinois laws to ensure lawsuits are held in logical and fair locations. It is this type of reform that will compel businesses to remain or move to Illinois, creating jobs for the state’s residents. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, tort reform could increase employment in Illinois by 1 to 2.5 percent.
Governor Rauner is on the road that Perry paved in Texas, but Florida’s Scott seems to have gotten off an exit too soon. Governor Scott must recognize the importance of creating a fair and just litigation environment. Otherwise, he will face a steep, uphill battle trying to persuade businesses to move to Florida.