Can Florida's governor convince Yale University to move?

Florida Gov. Rick Scott released a statement Tuesday suggesting that Yale University move south to avoid potential tax hikes Connecticut may levy against the institution.

Zack Wittman/The Tampa Bay Times via AP/File
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, holds a press conference in February.

Following the announcement of a proposal by Connecticut’s legislature that would tax Yale University’s endowment, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) called for the prestigious New Haven institution to move its operations to the Sunshine State.

“We would welcome a world-renowned university like Yale to our state and I can commit that we will not raise taxes on their endowment,” Mr. Scott said in a news release. “This would add yet another great university to our state.”

Connecticut legislators will consider a measure that would tax Yale’s massive endowment, listed as the second-highest in the United States and Canada at more than $25.5 billion as of 2015. Connecticut could levy a 7 percent tax on the investment, according to Scott . The Florida governor added in his release that since taking office, he has “not raised any taxes or fees in Florida,” and in fact “cut taxes 55 times.”

Connecticut faces a budget deficit of $266 million this year, the Orlando Sentinel reports, and could face a $900 million shortfall in 2017. Yale added nearly $2 billion to its endowment from 2014 to 2015.

Despite Scott’s call for relocation, Yale says it has no intentions of uprooting itself from its historic location where it has operated since 1701 – more than 140 years before Florida was admitted to the Union as a state.

"It's wonderful to be recognized as an outstanding asset, but Yale, New Haven, and Connecticut have been on common ground to great mutual benefit for 300 years,” Yale University Press Secretary Tom Conroy said in its statement. “We're looking forward to reaching even greater heights in education, research and civic engagement over the next three centuries and more.”

The Sentinel reported that Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, opposed to any tax hikes in the state, also stands against Scott’s bid for Yale. The governor’s spokeswoman, Devon Puglia, wrote in an email to the Sentinel that Mr. Malloy questions if Scott’s statement was “more about partisan politics than anything else?”

This isn’t the first time Scott has attempted to poach other states’ businesses for Florida. The AP reported that in 2015 he traveled to Pennsylvania, California, Kentucky, New York, and Connecticut in an effort to get businesses to relocate. Scott lost out on a bid for General Electric to move to Florida as well; in January, GE announced it would be relocating to Boston from Fairfield, Conn.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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