CFO Jeff Atwater’s Fall 2015 Edition of Florida’s Bottom Line
“Florida: A Beacon of Liberty & Prosperity”
By Dr. J. Robert McClure, III President & CEO of The James Madison Institute 
November 5, 2015There is a little known fact that to this day makes me shake my head. When Florida became the 27th state in 1845, our first state flag had three words emblazoned on it: “Let Us Alone.” I feel it’s still one of the single most ironic pieces of Florida history. Fast-forward 170 years and our great state is one of the most visited places in the entire world (nearly 100 million visitors a year), a hub of global trade (15 ports and $158 billion in trade), has the 4th largest economy in the U.S., and if Florida were a nation, our economy would be the 18th largest ($748 billion) on the planet.We’ve come quite a ways from “Let Us Alone,” but it all didn’t just happen by accident.Looking just within our borders, over the past 20 years, Florida has become a beacon of liberty and prosperity. We have, for the most part, taken a deliberate and consistent policy route to promote free markets, less government intrusion, and fewer regulatory burdens. And the result is clear – between 1992 and 2014, more than $127 billion in income has migrated from high tax/high regulation states to Florida. Facts don’t lie: $23.8 billion from New York, $14.8 billion from New Jersey, $10.3 billion from Illinois, and $8.6 billion from Pennsylvania lead the way.But numbers can have an unintended consequence of masking the remarkable journey behind them. The reality is that Florida’s path to prosperity is a unique and glorious story.It’s the story of the medical device manufacturer that won the U.S. Chamber’s small business of the year award in 2013 – a company that is innovating healthcare delivery every day for tens of millions of Americans. It’s the passion of a husband and wife team who started a craft brewery in Tallahassee and now employ 10 people. It’s the vision of a young Cuban immigrant who worked to build an equity firm now worth more than $1 billion. It’s the drive of the single mom from Tampa who went from cutting hair to owning three salons. In short, the Florida dream is the American dream.There is no secret behind the incredible success of one of my favorite shows on television. Since its inception in 2009, Shark Tank has captivated our love of ingenuity, progress, innovation and the beauty of the free enterprise system. It is the only system of economic governance that has had the effect of lifting more than 2 billion people out of poverty worldwide over the past 50 years.And the Sunshine State has shown the way.Florida has illustrated first hand that a favorable business tax structure encourages our economic progress. Repealing burdensome, unnecessary and duplicative regulations promotes expansive job growth. Promoting innovation and investment transforms lives, families and communities into economic engines of prosperity. State leaders have cut taxes 50 times since 2010 and more than 70 percent of all businesses currently do not pay the business tax. It’s no surprise that, Florida continues to be ranked among the best states for business presently and in future projections.Our success is the best advertisement of the path we must continue and the policy solutions we must pursue. Continuing our course means we must put our foot on the gas and move ahead with sound policy that embraces the free market, unleashes entrepreneurs to innovate without fear of overburdensome government regulation, and promotes economic opportunity and upward mobility for all Floridians.Now is the time to secure a future for our children and grandchildren that promises the opportunity for prosperity through hard work, innovation and personal responsibility.I’m proud to lead The James Madison Institute. We have seen firsthand that free market principles provide the best hope for Florida and the nation to succeed, thrive and prosper. My family has lived in this great state for five generations, and both my great-grandfather and my uncle had the pleasure and distinction of serving in the state Senate. I would like to think that if they were with us now they would see both our incredible progress as a state and our need to continue advancing economic freedom to the benefit of all right here in Florida.Article: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/floridasbottomline/docs/FBLFall2015.pdf