Florida’s New $1 Trillion Economy Creates Opportunities
July 30, 2018
Opportunities That Can Also Overcome Challenges
I’ll never forget where I was on September 29, 2007.
It was a Saturday, and I was in the Atlanta airport, walking to my next connection to catch a flight to D.C. for a meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. As I was keeping pace with others focused on catching their next flight, I happened to look over and saw a Wall Street Journal newspaper box and was immediately frozen in time.
The front-page headline said, “Is Florida Over?” Well, as the CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, you can probably imagine that it was not the type of headline you’d want to see in one of the nation’s most widely read newspapers.
A few years later, Florida made an incredible economic turnaround, and soon, even the WSJ would notice and write part two of that story – Has Florida found the secret to saving the economy?
Florida has come a long way in the last 10 years. In fact, in the past five years, Florida’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown by 27.2 percent, a rate that puts Florida’s GDP growth among the top five states in the country. And during the same time, Florida has produced more than 1 out of 11 jobs in the U.S.
As Will Weatherford, Managing Partner of Weatherford Capitol, former Speaker of the Florida House, and Florida Chamber Board member, recently wrote in Florida Politics:
“You would be hard pressed to find another economy with such robust growth. Florida has seen year-over-year GDP growth, jobs continue to be created and our unemployment rate continues to drop and has remained below the national average for the past several years.”
The good news is that Florida continues to break economic records. Earlier this month, Florida’s GDP topped $1 trillion. Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, just this past January, predicted that Florida would reach this new milestone during 2018. And just as Dr. Parrish predicted, Florida officially hit the new $1 trillion GDP in the last few weeks. To put this into perspective, if Florida was an independent country, our $1 trillion economy now ranks us as the 17th largest economy in the world – ahead of Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Argentina. Now, as Dr. Parrish explains, Florida is adding $2.74 billion each day to the state’s GDP.
“Becoming a $1 trillion economy means Florida is continuing to grow and create jobs, keeping unemployment lower than the national average, and creating economic opportunity,” Dr. Parrish said recently.
Florida’s GDP Milestone Garnered the Attention of National and International Headlines
- Palm Beach PostU.S. News
- Orlando Sentinel
- Tampa Bay Times
- The Capitolist
- Atlanta Journal Constitution
- MyFox Memphis
- KISS 104.1
- Dayton Daily News
- WFTV9 ABC
- Sunshine State News.
Of course, achieving a $1 trillion GDP is due in large part to Governor Scott, the Florida Cabinet and Florida Legislature. Consider that, until just a few years ago, Florida punished manufacturing investments twice (once at the state level, once at the local level). At the urging of the Florida Chamber, the legislature and Governor Scott removed the Machinery & Equipment (M&E) sales tax. Understanding that manufacturing jobs have the highest value added, removing this tax is making great strides and helping Florida climb in GDP rankings.
“This is an historic moment for Florida reaching a record $1 trillion in GDP. By working every day to create private-sector jobs, we’ve been able to increase Florida’s GDP by more than $270 billion – 37 percent – since 2010. When I came into office I made it very clear that we would get our economy back on track. Within seven and a half years, private-sector businesses have created more than 1.5 million jobs and Florida’s unemployment is at a low 3.8 percent. Florida’s growing economy is producing real results for families across our state and we now have the 17th largest economy in the world,” said Governor Rick Scott.
“Getting Florida’s economy out of the ditch and back on track has long been one of our state’s top priorities, and today’s announcement that our economy surpassed $1 trillion is incredible news for all Floridians. This milestone is further evidence that the pro-business policies and priorities championed by Governor Scott, the Cabinet and the legislature are working. Florida’s economy is on a roll, but complacency is not a strategy and we must continue to do all that we can to make the Florida’s economy as strong and resilient as possible,” said Adam Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture.
“Florida’s strong economy is a testament to the work done over the past seven years to create an environment that keeps taxes low, reduces our debt, and makes Florida an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family. When we remove unnecessary burdens and overregulation, businesses can grow and create new jobs, while attracting new talent and companies to our state. It’s important that we continue this growth trend, and the policies that have helped us achieve this feat, to ensure Florida remains a top global economy,” said Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer.
According to TheFloridaScorecard.org, Florida has created 170,500 jobs over the past year, and has steadily kept unemployment rates below the national average. At the same time, achievement gaps are closing in Florida’s Pre-K-12 system, Florida continues to break visitation records, and our state is continuing to diversify its economy.
And while this growth is good news for Florida, challenges and opportunities remain. The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research initiative (being released this year) shows the gaps Florida must close in order to continue to be globally competitive and grow smarter by 2030 and beyond. Consider that while achievement gaps are closing, 43 percent of 3rd graders aren’t reading at or above grade level. And while 1 in 11 jobs in the nation in the last five years were created in Florida, our state’s 14.8 percent poverty rate includes 21.3 percent of children under age 18. While Florida is better suited than most states in these areas, the Florida Chamber will continue to lead reforms that create economic opportunity.
As former Speaker Weatherford has said, “A $1 trillion economy is proof that when we stay focused on Florida’s long-term future and remain stalwart in our commitment to quality education, free enterprise and an unmatched quality of life, it suggests that we can continue to be one of the most exciting economic stories in the world.”
While we can certainly pay tribute to Florida’s new $1 trillion GDP success, we must also stay focused. The challenges that remain should be viewed as opportunities to further secure Florida’s future. Your dedication toward the common goal of making Florida more competitive, will help ensure that future Wall Street Journal headlines focus on economic prosperity for all.
Register today for Florida’s premier forum focused on growing Florida to its full potential – the 2018 Florida Chamber Foundation Future of Florida Forum.
Florida’s $10 Billion in Tax Advantages Getting National Attention
As President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, I’ve been interviewed in the past two months by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and several other news outlets and they all want to know the same thing- what are the significant tax advantages in Florida and what is the Florida Chamber doing to prepare for the expected job growth headed our way?
Thanks in large part to national tax reform, Governor Scott’s leadership and focus on jobs, and thanks to marketing by Pete Antonocci and our teammates at Enterprise Florida, Inc., leaders in other states are realizing the tax advantages of moving their families and businesses to Florida.
Following passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, employers nationwide announced pay raises, bonuses, lower prices, capital investments and more, due to the resulting benefits from federal tax reform. One would think this push to make America more competitive would be met with significant fanfare from all political stripes, but this has not been the case in certain states. Here are a few actual examples of what other states are doing:
- In California, two Assemblymen sought to punish businesses benefiting from federal tax reform by introducing a constitutional amendment that creates a new 10 percent tax on companies that have net earnings of more than one million dollars.
- A group of Northeastern states, including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut, are planning to sue the federal government, claiming the federal tax bill “unfairly targets” high-tax states because of caps to state and local deductions, ignoring that their tax codes and economic models are the reason for their significant tax bill.
Unfortunately, politicians in high-tax states also have no issue with taxpayers in Florida and the rest of the nation subsidizing their state’s spending. This “Robin Hood”-type scheme is being exposed for what it really is – a failed tax and spend scheme.
Florida Chamber Chief Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish shares in his latest edition of By The Numbers, that $879,000 in income migrates to Florida every hour. Many high-tax states in the northeast are losing residents to Florida. In fact, 88,500 net new people in one year have moved to Florida from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania alone.
Florida’s leaders know that a competitive tax climate increases corporate investment and creates jobs, and with 26 million people expected to call Florida home by 2030, two million net new jobs will need to be created in order to keep unemployment below five percent. This is one reason Forbes has listed Florida as the number one state for growth.
Not only does Florida have no personal state income tax, it has cut taxes and fees by $10 billion since 2010 and has created nearly 1.5 million private sector jobs -outpacing the nation in job growth. Furthermore, Dr. Parrish now predicts Florida will be a $1 trillion economy by the end of 2018.
Enterprise Florida, Inc. (EFI) is doing a good job marketing Florida’s friendly business climate and promoting the advantages of Florida. The Florida Chamber was pleased to partner with EFI to highlight why now is the right time for businesses in other states to move to Florida. Click here to see the Wall Street Journal ad campaign.
Yet, despite having the most pro-jobs governor in America, in the recently completed legislative session, lawmakers made Florida a little more expensive for families and Florida a little less competitive for businesses.
I’m so proud of the Florida Chamber’s team of advocates for stopping more than a dozen bad ideas from becoming law this past session. These bills would have increased employer mandates, implemented overreaching regulations and further worsened Florida’s troubling lawsuit abuse climate.
What Others Are Saying
Business leaders across Florida recognize the unique opportunity that Florida has to further grow jobs and create economic prosperity for all.
- Dr. Jackson Sasser, President of Santa Fe College and the Florida Chamber’s North Central Florida Regional Board Chair recently spoke about the importance of economic development – and the important role education plays – during a recent edition of the Florida Chamber’s Series on Free Enterprise.
- Representative Clay Ingram discussed how infrastructure and tourism investments play a role in Florida’s economic development, on the latest edition of the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line.
- Husein Cumber, Executive Vice President of Florida East Coast Industries and Florida Chamber Northeast Regional Board Chair, was featured in the Florida Times Union sharing his support of Florida’s growing economy, and the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund which is helping transform Florida’s economy into next generation targeted industries.
While we’re looking forward to working with future legislative leadership, the Florida Chamber looks forward to ensuring candidates that believe in jobs and growing the economy are elected this fall.
Following a year in which sitting lawmakers earned the lowest grades in the history of the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card, there is simply no time to waste in electing candidates that want to see Florida succeed.
Join the Conversation at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity
Thank you for your strong support of the Florida Chamber. I look forward to working with you to ensure we continue to secure Florida’s future. If you have not yet registered for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity on May 3 in Orlando, click here.
We Don’t Like Cold Weather or High Taxes. That’s Why We Live in Florida
If you’ve been thinking about moving your business and your family to Florida, the new federal tax law and our work to make Florida business-friendly has made relocating to Florida a better deal than ever before.
See the below advertisement that appeared in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend.
Did You Know?
The newly-passed federal tax reform bill is making Florida’s already business-friendly climate an even more appealing tax shelter than ever before. See what others are saying.
- Florida Ready To Take In New Yorkers After Tax Reform
- Tax Overhaul Just Another Reason To Move to Florida, Chamber Says
- New Tax Plan Makes Florida Even Greater Tax Haven
The Florida Chamber encourages you to join the fight to secure Florida’s future. Consider calling companies looking to expand and grow in all the states Florida is welcoming wealth from. Invite them to look at the additional advantages Florida now has after the new tax package.
Tell Your Lawmaker: Recent ‘Judicial Hellhole’ Ranking Deserves Our Collective Action
Last week, the American Tort Reform Association released its “Judicial Hellhole” report and named Florida the worst “Judicial Hellhole” in the country, the first time in the 16 year history of the report.
Lawsuit abuse in Florida is an increasingly serious and expensive problem, and translates approximately into a $3,400 ‘tax’ for Florida’s families each year.
There have been five Wall Street Journal articles this year alone highlighting Florida’s lawsuit abuse problem. The national Institute for Legal Reform named Florida the fifth worst legal climate in America, and now ATRA ranks Florida at the top of their list (even worse than California).
Take Action: Contact Your Legislator
Contact your legislator to let them know Florida needs their leadership. Send a letter to your legislator today and tell them to lower the cost of living on families by fixing Florida’s broken lawsuit climate.
Florida Surpasses California to Become Worst ‘Judicial Hellhole’
New Report Says ‘High Court’s Contempt & Lawsuit Rackets’ Are to Blame
TALLAHASSEE, FL (December 5, 2017) – For the first time in its 16-year history, a new report says “enough shade has been cast on the Sunshine State to rank it as the nation’s worst Judicial Hellhole.”
The ranking announced this morning by the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), is further evidence that Florida’s legal climate is among the worst in America, the Florida Chamber of Commerce said today.
“Lawsuit abuse in Florida is an increasingly serious and expensive problem, and it just keeps getting worse. On average, it translates into a $3,400 ‘tax’ for Florida’s families each year, due to increased lawsuit abuse costs,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber.
“There have been five Wall Street Journal articles this year alone talking about Florida’s horrendous lawsuit abuse, the national Institute for Legal Reform named Florida the fifth worst state for legal climate, and now the American Tort Reform Association ranks Florida as the worst Judicial Hellhole, how much more evidence do lawmakers need to take action,” Wilson continued.
- REPORT: 2017-2018 Judicial Hellholes
According to ATRA, the report shines its brightest spotlight on eight jurisdictions or courts that have earned reputations as Judicial Hellholes, including Florida, California, St. Louis, New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Madison and Cook Counties, Illinois, and Louisiana.
From ATRA’s Executive Summary:
- The Florida Supreme Court’s liability-expanding decisions and barely contained contempt for the lawmaking authority of legislators and the governor has repeatedly led to its inclusion in this report. And though the high court’s plaintiff-friendly majority this year shrunk from 5-2 to 4-3, a hushed discussion between two majority justices recently caught by an open microphone suggests that this majority is as partisan as ever and brazenly determined to influence the judicial selection process as three like-minded colleagues face mandatory retirement in early 2019.
- Meanwhile, an aggressive personal injury bar’s fraudulent and abusive practices in South Florida and elsewhere have also tarnished the state’s reputation. Encouragingly, at least some plaintiffs’ lawyers who’ve crossed the line are being held accountable, either with stiff court sanctions or criminal prosecutions. But with the help of some lawmakers, too many are still getting away with too much, and for the first time in this report’s 16-year history, enough shade has been cast on the Sunshine State to rank it as the nation’s worst Judicial Hellhole.
“At a time we’re trying to lower the cost of living on Florida families, this isn’t good news for home and auto owners and their insurance rates. At a time when we’re trying to lower the cost of doing business in Florida, including reducing workers’ comp rates, this isn’t good news,” Wilson said.
# # #
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.
Florida Chamber President Provides Hurricane Irma Economic Outlook During Testimony Before Senate Commerce Committee
In a testimony before the Florida Senate Commerce Committee, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson told lawmakers that Florida will rebound from Irma.
During his remarks to the committee, which is chaired by Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), Wilson encouraged lawmakers to focus on continuous improvement and to join forces with the private sector to help secure Florida’s future. Click here to read Wilson’s testimony.
Irma yielded the largest evacuation in U.S. history, and as Wilson explained, there’s no question we’ll learn lessons from this storm. From an economic outlook perspective, Wilson testified that:
- Tax revenue likely won’t keep up with storm expenses,
- Job growth will continue to slow,
- A gap in skilled labor – particularly for home repairs and rebuilding – will hurt in the short-term, and
- Lawsuit chasers, as highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, “are trying to milk the public’s pain for their own gain.” Wilson encouraged lawmakers to side with consumers in frivolous class action claims.
Looking forward, he applauded state leaders for making smart public policy decisions to reduce exposure and spread risk in Citizens Property Insurance and Florida’s CAT Fund. However, he warned that the tsunami of assignment of benefit-related claims that have flooded the market – unrelated to Hurricane Irma – are causing property insurance rates to skyrocket. He encouraged lawmakers to make meaningful reforms this session.
Wilson was joined on the panel by partners in Florida’s business community, including:
- Cissy Proctor, Executive Director, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
- Ken Lawson, President & CEO, VISIT FLORIDA
- Michelle Dennard, President and CEO, CareerSource Florida
- Cheryl Kirby, Associate State Director, Florida SBDC
- Lance Lozano, Chief Operating Officer, Florida United Business Association
Call on the Legislature to Fight AOB Fraud
Support Local Chambers in Need
Support local chambers in need of relief following Hurricane Irma by contributing to the Florida Chamber Local Chamber Relief Fund.
Wall Street Journal: “Hurricane Irma’s Lawsuit Chasers”
As post-Hurricane Irma recovery continues in many parts of Florida, Syd Kitson, Chair of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, recently shared with readers of the Naples Daily News why he’s proud to be a Floridian.
Yet, as the Wall Street Journal showed us today, “trial lawyers never let a disaster go to waste.”
“Storm-chasing attorneys in Florida” have filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Power & Light, and are seeking between $2 and $3 billion in damages for allegedly not properly caring for its infrastructure.
As the Wall Street Journal writes, “losing power is no doubt aggravating,” but “by September 19 Florida Power & Light had restored service to 99% of customers affected by the storm that swept the entire Florida Peninsula.”
The editorial also highlights questionable relations between Miami-based MSP Recovery Law, one of the firms who filed the lawsuit, and local government officials. The editorial draws into question the city’s refusal to scale back trees and foliage – which the utility notes were planted too close to power lines, making securing the energy infrastructure challenging – and a local official’s “motivations other than civic virtue for deflecting blame to the utility.”
Did You Know?
Florida’s legal climate ranks among the worst in the country – 46 out of 50 states. Lawsuit abuse costs Florida families about $3,400 every year. Help us fix Florida’s broken legal system. Call me today at 850-521-1235 or email me at email@example.com.
United Business Community Can Win the War
Voice of Reason
For years I’ve been warning about the growing power of TV trial lawyers over the Florida Legislature. It was none more apparent than this year’s regular legislative session.
Throughout session, politicians put short-term politics ahead of Florida’s long-term security, and ignored rising workers’ compensation rates on job creators, and rising property insurance rates on Florida’s families and workers. The lack of courage demonstrated by some in the Florida Legislature was so apparent, it prompted the Wall Street Journal to ask, “Does Florida’s legislature exist to enrich plaintiffs attorneys or to serve the Sunshine State’s voters?”
Lawmakers were well educated on the problem early on. Leading up to the 2017 Legislative Session, Florida businesses were hit with $1.5 billion in increased costs due to a series of workers’ comp court decisions. And rising property insurance rates – as much as 10 percent higher – were being forced onto homeowners to cover the ever-increasing cost of water losses due to a “homeowner fraud tax” that’s become a lucrative niche industry for some TV trial lawyers and shady contractors. A similar scam is haunting auto owners.
During session, the Florida House passed Florida Chamber-supported bills that addressed both problems. Yet the Florida Senate opted to ignore the House’s legislation, and instead considered a bill actually written by trial lawyers that did nothing to tackle rising workers’ comp rates, the attorney fees at the heart of the problem, or rising property insurance rates.
The legislative session is now in the rear view mirror, but Florida small businesses, workers and families are now forced to deal with the rising cost of legislative inaction in the form of higher insurance premiums. At the Florida Chamber, we won’t give up.
A $1.5 billion increase in workers’ comp rates stunts economic opportunities and impacts employees who should be receiving the health care they need and getting back to work quickly. Many businesses are just now learning of the workers’ comp rate increase, and getting their first bill with the higher rates. The Florida Chamber and its Workers’ Comp Task Force will continue standing up for job creators, fighting to protect workers, and working with elected leaders to enact reforms to help make Florida more competitive. Add your voice to our work improving Florida’s workers’ comp system by contacting Carolyn Johnson.
Assignment of Benefits
We’re committed to protecting homeowners and auto owners from this rampant fraud and abuse. Far too often home and auto owners are unaware that by signing an AOB for repairs means they’re signing away their rights, and making themselves and their insurance carrier vulnerable to scam tactics and lawsuits. The Florida Chamber and our Consumer Protection Coalition continue to partner with leading organizations across Florida to raise awareness and seek legislative resolutions. In between now and the next legislative session, you’ll see our digital public service announcements designed to protect Floridians and strengthen our message. Join our mounting efforts to combat AOB fraud and abuse by contacting Edie Ousley.
We will continue our efforts to identify and elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates to the Florida Legislature that will put Florida’s long-term economic future ahead of political quick fixes. And we’ll continue working with our partners, providing a united business community, to stand on the front lines fighting these battles on behalf of Florida small business, workers and families.
We can win this together.
Wall Street Journal Warns of Plaintiff Attorney Get-Rich-Quick Scheme
The Wall Street Journal today exposed secrets behind a property insurance fraud and abuse scam wreaking havoc on Florida homeowners. It’s a scheme that the Florida Chamber of Commerce and partners at the Consumer Protection Coalition have targeted for reform.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
In a nationwide editorial, Florida’s Trial Bar Hurricane: Legal abuse threatens insurers that absorb extreme weather risk, the WSJ says:
“…taxpayers will still get whacked with Category 5 bills if Tallahassee doesn’t shut down the state’s latest plaintiffs attorney get-rich-quick scheme.”
“Sunshine State lawyers, in cahoots with local contractors, are crisscrossing the state encouraging homeowners to sign away their insurance rights, a practice known as ‘assignment of benefits,’ or AOB….”
“…insurance costs are predictably soaring. Citizens Property Insurance Corp.…has seen litigated claims jump to 45% of all claims in 2016, up from 12% in 2011….Private insurers are seeing similar trends and are passing the costs along to policyholders.”
“How long can homeowners bear double-digit premium hikes?”….“This man-made fiscal hurricane is swirling…”
“..legislative fixes have been thwarted in recent years by the state’s powerful plaintiffs-lawyer lobby, and competing bills would bless the trial bar’s practices.”
“Florida homeowners already face risks from hurricanes, hail storms and other natural phenomena. Do they need to face the unnatural disaster knows as plaintiffs attorneys too?”
Here’s How You Can Help
- Share this consumer alert with your friends, family and colleagues, and help prevent future victims.
- Sign this petition to encourage lawmakers to take legislative action to protect consumers. The fight ahead is steep and your voices are needed.
- Watch this video to learn how the AOB scam is abusing homeowners.
For more information, contact Carolyn Johnson at 850-521-1235.
Florida Continues Moving In The Right Direction
Throughout the past three years, the economy in Florida has grown a total of 9.9 percent, from $728 billion to its current level. According to the most recent Did You Know released by the Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida’s economy continues to grow.
This is a growing trend. In fact, a recent report by the Wall Street Journal suggests Florida is now a model for economic growth for the nation. Indeed, four years ago Florida saw its unemployment grow to more than 11 percent under the Crist administration. And while our work is far from over in securing Florida’s future, Florida’s unemployment rate is now less than the national average and continues to remain below the national average. Florida’s fourth grade reading scores are number two in the world only behind Hong Kong.
Florida’s private sector has created more than 500,000 jobs in the past three years, jobs that come from companies like Pratt & Whitney and AppRiver. These companies are creating their own Florida stories and, along the way, supporting the economies of their communities and their state. Pratt & Whitney is bringing more than 100 jobs to West Palm Beach while AppRiver’s CEO Michael Murdoch has taken the Gulf Breeze-headquartered company from Georgia to around the world. Such has been the success of AppRiver, they were recently awarded Governor Rick Scott’s Ambassador Award for their success.
“It was great to be recognized by the state of Florida for creating jobs, especially in a down economy,” said Murdoch. “Even during the recession we were adding customers, which I think is a testament to the company and the services we are providing and the market that we are in.”
In a recent interview on the Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Murdoch explained that the market for business security software is worldwide and Florida’s business friendly climate allows AppRiver to compete globally from Gulf Breeze, Florida. “Even in a down economy, companies have to have technology to be efficient and compete,” said Murdoch.
Throughout the state, we see more and more companies expanding and growing- and we welcome them with open arms to our increasingly business friendly climate.