Contrast with Illinois: Florida ups the Wisconsin ante

Florida’s Governor Rick Scott has an article in today’s Washington Times titled and sub-titled:

Florida ups the Wisconsin ante

Cuts government, reforms unions and slashes taxes, aiming for growth

Scott explains that he just submitted a budget that reduces Florida state spending by $5 billion instead of just the $3.6 billion needed to balance the budget. “But,” he writes, “when special interest groups are used to getting $70 billion, it’s not hard to imagine the reaction” when they’re told there will only be $65 billion.

It’s certainly not hard to imagine. Nor is it difficult to imagine the reaction of the press. The reason we don’t see that kind of leadership in Illinois is because for the most part, Republican elected officials here are scared to death of interest groups and the old media.

If they knew how to lead – which includes effectively reaching the public – they’d discover that the vast majority of the taxpaying public is on their side. That’s especially the case in this economy.

Instead, Republican failures here have made the travails of Democratic Party controlled Illinois the national example of what not to do. Gov. Scott writes,

“While other states, such as Illinois, decided to raise taxes to close their budget gap…I took the opposite tack by lowering taxes and dramatically slashing state spending.”

A few quick excerpts from Scott’s article are worth noting:

“First, I instituted accountability budgeting, forcing each state department to justify every dollar it spends with a specific, measurable goal associated with it.”

That’s only a radical idea when it comes to government.

“Second, I want to modernize Florida’s pension system… The state…guarantees the pension upon retirement. The system also allowed state bureaucrats to double-dip on taxpayers – drawing retirement benefits while continuing to work and draw a regular paycheck.”

It’s not only Democrats in this state that would object to this reform. Many a “retired” or soon-to-be retired politician or government worker votes Republican.

“My goal is to make Florida the No. 1 business state in the nation. We will be the state for job creation. And the first step in that direction is to begin phasing out the business tax by reducing it from 5.5 percent down to 3 percent this year. Over the next seven years, we’ll phase it out completely.”

If you think this is an April Fools article, it’s not. Today is February 23, and from Wisconsin to Ohio to Florida, real Republican leaders in 2011 are showing the rest of the pack how to get it done.

Governor Scott references us again:

“Across the nation, other governors and state legislatures are facing the same dilemma we have here in Florida. Illinois decided to embrace bigger government as the solution. So, rather than cutting their state budget to close a $6 billion gap, state lawmakers decided to raise the personal income-tax rate by a draconian 66 percent. They chose to placate special-interest groups at the expense of individual taxpayers.”

Rumor has it that some Republicans in Springfield are about to introduce legislation that has been inspired by leaders in other states. Stay tuned.