National polls reflect what people say about public policy, but there’s a better way to find out what people want. As René Descartes said, “To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.” And what people are doing is moving to Florida. In droves.
From July 2021 to July 2022, about 319,000 more people moved into Florida than left—the largest net population gain of any state in the country. For context, Texas had the second largest net inflow: about 231,000 people. But Texas’ population is about 8 million larger than Florida. In percentage terms, people moving from other states contributed nearly twice the increase to Florida’s population as to the population of Texas.
In fact, only South Carolina and Idaho had a higher rate of domestic migration than Florida. What exactly do people love about the Sunshine State?
Climate is a big attraction for many. But wise financial governance surely plays a key role as well. It allows people to keep more of what they earn.
Florida has done an outstanding job in this regard. It has kept a lid on government spending and regulation and offers some of the lowest taxes in the entire country. Indeed, Florida can boast:
- the second lowest state tax collections per capita;
- the fourth best business tax climate with a relatively low and flat 5.5 percent corporate income tax rate;
- the twelfth best property tax climate;
- no individual income tax and no capital stock tax, estate tax, or inheritance tax;
- the second lowest unemployment insurance tax.
And by keeping spending low, Florida has the second lowest state debt per capita and a record high $21.8 billion surplus from the last fiscal year. However, that surplus was not created by sacrificing basic government services, like infrastructure and police. Rather, the Sunshine State has focused on spending taxpayer dollars where they’re needed while avoiding waste.
Education is just one example of Florida’s prudent spending and was a key reason for the state being ranked first in The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card. In fact, Florida was the only state to achieve a top 10 ranking in each of the index’s four categories: first in transparency, second in regulation, third in school choice, and seventh in spending.
And while the Sunshine State has established a track record of efficient day-to-day operations, it has proven incredibly resilient in the face of disasters, and not just hurricanes. When considering a multitude of outcomes related to each state’s response to COVID, Florida had the sixth best overall score in the nation and the third best score for how the state handled schools reopening.
Like all the states, Florida lost a large number of jobs during the initial months of the pandemic. While many states which stayed locked down for a year or longer, Florida allowed its businesses to reopen much sooner. The result was a relatively fast jobs recovery. Florida now has more people working than it did before the pandemic and is adding jobs at a faster clip. As of December 2022, Florida has more jobs than New York for the first time ever, despite New York having a 768,000 job lead before the pandemic.
Other states should take notice of Florida’s success and implement the policies which have made Florida so successful: minimal taxation, regulation, and spending, with maximum freedom for consumers, parents, and businesses. This applies doubly so for states like New York, Illinois, and California—all three of which are hemorrhaging people so fast that more residents move out of each state annually than die there.
Presumably, death is the only thing stopping even more people from moving to Florida.
Courtesy of the Heritage Foundation (originally titled “Sunshine State: A Move in the Bright Direction”).
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