Louisianans are used to their politicians stunting to advance themselves, but last week we got something different: an out-of-state pol coming to Louisiana to pull a stunt he hoped would advance his career. Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott came to New Orleans on what he called a "trade mission" to entice local businesses to relocate to Florida, which he says is a more business-friendly state. It was his second "trade mission" to our state. He has made similar trips to Illinois, California and New York (not coincidentally, all states with Democratic governors, as is Gov. John Bel Edwards). If his previous visits have caused businesses to relocate to Florida, he hasn't touted it.
Edwards issued a blunt retort, saying, "Rick Scott was Bobby Jindal's biggest cheerleader and surrounds himself with the same set of advisers who turned Louisiana's $1 billion budget surplus into a $3 billion budget deficit." Edwards added, "However, Gov. Scott should call this what it is — a fundraising stop on his yet-to-be announced U.S. Senate campaign. Louisianans would appreciate the honesty and hope that he'll take his political contributions and leave."
Scott, who is term limited as Flor-ida's governor, says he hasn't decided whether to run for the Senate, though most Florida political watchers suggest he will. Last year he took over the "New Republican Super PAC," which officially isn't affiliated with any candidate but appears to have two main goals: to raise money and to promote Scott. Those who remember Jindal's "Believe Again" Super PAC might find echoes of that with Scott's Super PAC.
Regarding Edwards' reference to Jindal's "advisers," Scott is close to Taylor Teepell, one of the top advisers to Jindal's 2016 presidential campaign and a former Jindal staffer. In Aug. 2017, The Miami Herald reported that Scott had named Teepell to the Florida "Department of Economic Opportunity," a $110,000-a-year job. The paper noted that Teepell "had no experience in development or land planning — which the director of the Division of Community Development oversees." Teepell now works for the New Republican Super PAC, which was founded by Scott, as does Melissa Sellers Stone, a longtime Jindal aide in Louisiana.
Given Scott's affinity for all things Jindal, it's rich that he would come to Louisiana to try to score political points by claiming our economy is doing poorly compared to that of Florida. Edwards was absolutely correct to point out that Jindal inherited a nearly $1 billion surplus from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco — and after eight years of "fiscal conservatism" he left Louisiana in a $2 billion hole (a $3 billion swing). Since Edwards took office two years ago, Jindal's GOP legislative allies — particularly those in the Louisiana House of Representatives — have thwarted every effort to restore fiscal sanity to our state.
By the way, while Scott's buddy Jindal was driving Louisiana into a fiscal ditch, Scott oversaw significant rate increases and reduced coverage for Florida property owners who need "last resort" hurricane insurance from the state-run Florida Citizens Property Insurance program. He also cut funding for colleges, arts and culture. Sound familiar? It should. Rick Scott is the Bobby Jindal of Florida.