Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown’s new foil? Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott gestures last month during a Cabinet meeting at the Florida State Fair.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott gestures last month during a Cabinet meeting at the Florida State Fair. The Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown may have his new foil.

Less than two months after Texas Gov. Rick Perry left office, another Rick – Scott – announced Thursday he is California-bound.

The Florida governor said he will travel to Los Angeles in April to encourage shipping companies to move their operations to ports in his “low-tax, business friendly” state.

This announcement – and Scott’s criticism of Brown’s “tax and spend administration” – should offer some relief to observers of the feud between Brown and Perry that persisted for several years.

Before leaving office in January, the Texas governor and self-proclaimed hunter of jobs showed up at a Sacramento news conference in a Tesla and ran radio ads here trumpeting the Lone Star State.

Though business relocations are relatively rare, Perry scored political points and Brown offered one of his most memorable dismissals, referring to Perry’s business recruitment effort as “barely a fart.”

Scott, like Perry a Republican, hopes to capitalize on recent labor disputes at California ports.

In a letter to shipping companies Thursday, he said “Florida’s low-tax, business friendly climate and our commitment to investing in our transportation infrastructure are great reasons for you to consider shipping your goods through Florida ports.”

He criticized California’s high taxes and unemployment rate, and he invited companies to a reception in Los Angeles on April 12.

Like other East Coast states, Florida has invested in port upgrades in an effort to attract increased cargo expected to pass through the Panama Canal once it is widened, likely next year.

Jock O’Connell, a Sacramento-based international trade economist, expects some diversion of goods from California seaports to the East Coast, but less to Florida than non-peninsula ports.

Any movement by shipping companies, he said, will be for logistical reasons, not tax policy.

“It’s purely infrastructure,” he said, “who can move the most boxes quickest.”

In an email, Brown spokesman Evan Westrup touted California’s improving economy and balanced budget.

Then the administration returned fire on Scott, the subject of controversy after the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting on Sunday reported that Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials had been ordered not to use the phrase “climate change” or “global warming” in official communications.

“Our budget is balanced, our credit rating is up and we created more than a quarter of the nation’s jobs in January,” Westrup said. “We also believe in climate change. As one of the 60 million tourists expected to visit California this year, we hope the governor’s stay is both enjoyable and educational.”

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.