Welcome ⁠t⁠o Flor⁠i⁠da! Don’⁠t⁠ Forge⁠t⁠ Why You Moved Here

By: Dr. J. Robert McClure / 2021



Andrew Cuomo might just be Florida’s #1 real estate agent. The Sunshine State is all too happy to pick up the many entrepreneurial refugees fleeing the big government failures of the Empire State. We entice roughly a quarter-million new residents each year. In both population and income migration, Florida takes in more than anywhere else—year after year. And rest assured, more will come as the economic fallout of drastic lockdown diktats and decades of bad tax and spending policies becomes painfully clearer.

The appeal is obvious: Florida boasts responsible fiscal policies, great infrastructure, a reasonable regulatory load, and no state income tax. And who can beat our beaches? It’s no wonder that bright and hard-working Americans are ready to ditch heavy-handed state governments like New York for our land of oranges and opportunity down south.

We welcome everyone who wants to work and make great things in Florida. We’ve built a pretty good system of governance to make that happen. We pride ourselves on the high quality of infrastructure and services that we are able to provide for a reasonable tax bill and effective system of regulation. Consider this—the State of New York’s budget is about double Florida’s (and New York has fewer residents).

As a native Sunshine Stater, I hope that I speak for my fellow Floridians in articulating one small request of all you newly minted Florida men and women pouring in: please don’t forget why you moved here in the first place.

Don’t forget the burdensome regulations that made it difficult to run a business in good times and almost impossible to stay afloat during COVID times. A Pacific Institute analysis of small business regulations reported that Florida is the 9th best state for mom-and-pops to set up shop. New York? Way down the list at 41.

Don’t forget the nanny state interventions that nagged you in best-case scenarios and lowered your quality of life in the worst. New York City’s “Soda Wars” is just the tip of the iceberg. The data bear this out: the Cato Institute’s “Freedom in the Fifty States” index, which ranks states based on economic and personal freedoms, puts Florida at the very top—the national leader. Again, New York trails the pack at dead last.

Don’t forget the basket-case fiscal policies that have made your old state government dependent on federal bailouts to stay afloat. You were taxed to death for mismanaged services and constant fiscal emergencies. According to a WalletHub analysis, New Yorkers shoulder the highest tax burden in the country at a staggering 12.3 percent in combined property, income, and sales tax burdens. Florida? Way down the list at #46 with a lean 6.8 percent tax burden.

This is before even looking at the spending side of things. With all that tax money coming in, you’d expect New York to at least be able to pay its bills. It can’t. The Mercatus Center’s State Fiscal Rankings index reports that New York is the 41st least fiscally solvent in the nation. Florida is—you guessed it—at the top of the list as the fourth most solvent state. What can we say? We like financial responsibility.

It’s easy to remember these things in the short term. It’s why so many left their old states at all. But time has a funny way of making people forget. Let’s commit it to memory: Florida is nice in large part because of our small government policies. Keep it that way.

It is remarkable that Florida has been able to maintain such a reasonable level of government given its large size. This gives us reason for optimism: the Florida government has been able to withstand the pressures to expand despite a consistently growing population.

Some of this is likely due to demographic effects. Florida tends to attract retirees, who tend to be more politically conservative by nature. They don’t vote for policies that will unnecessarily raise taxes or regulation or spending. This cultural bulwark for limited government policies is part of what has made Florida such a great place to live.

There is no reason new Floridians can’t share in the cultural appreciation for the policies that have made this state great. After all, they fled their former states due to the malign effects of big government run amok. They of all people should not want to recreate such an ill-fated experiment in their new home.

As new Floridians come to enjoy our sand and surf, they will instinctively come to practice our unspoken rule: leave your beach area better than you found it. Pick up not only your own belongings, but also any stray items you might find along the way.

Let’s apply that thinking to our state, too. Together, we can not only enjoy the things that have made Florida such a fantastic place to live and work, but we can also make it even better for generations to come.


About the Author:

Dr. Robert McClure is the President and CEO of The James Madison Institute (JMI). JMI is a nonpartisan, public policy research organization based in Florida; founded in 1987, JMI is statewide with members in Florida, across the country and around the world. JMI’s ideas are rooted in the U.S. Constitution and the principles of economic freedom and opportunity for all Floridians. Labeled a “heavy hitter” by Florida Trend magazine, the Institute’s work has appeared in every media market in the state, as well as nationally including USA Today, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, Newsmax, the Hill, the Washington Examiner, Drudge Report and more. Dr. McClure has been named twice by Influence magazine as one of the most influential people in Florida politics. He has also been named multiple times as one of the top 50 influencers in Florida by the Miami Herald, Bradenton Herald, and El Nuevo Herald. McClure was also recently, again named one of Florida’s most influential business leaders by the state’s leading business magazine, Florida Trend.