Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he plans to create a “California-to-Florida jobs pipeline” in the wake of Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 4 signing of a law that will increase the minimum wage in the Golden State to $15 by 2023. Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.05.

“With California’s minimum wage increasing to a nationwide high of $15 dollars an hour, job creators will face a crippling, new challenge on top of California’s already high taxes and burdensome regulations,” Scott said in a press release. “California elected officials even chose to ignore concerns that the new minimum wage could eventually cost almost 700,000 jobs and an additional $3.6 billion a year for taxpayers.”

Employers in Florida may one day face the same challenge, however, according to the founder and president of a senior living company with communities in the Sunshine State.

Juniper Communities’ Lynne S. Katzmann, Ph.D., told McKnight’s Senior Living she believes that a nationwide minimum wage of $15 is “inevitable.” She made the comment earlier this month when discussing her company’s new 15X20 program, which has the goal of increasing hourly minimum wages in its communities to $15 by the year 2020. The Bloomfield, NJ-based company operates in Florida as well as in Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“While there is no $15 minimum wage in our markets at the moment, we believe it’s inevitable,” Katzmann said. 

In the meantime, Scott has announced that he will lead a “domestic trade mission” to California next week. There, he will meet with business leaders and speak at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference about why businesses in California should consider moving their operations to Florida. Scott is scheduled to appear May 2 at the Los Angeles conference as part of a panel of governors discussing challenges facing their states. Other panelists will include fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Democrats Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia.

The Florida governor invited his California counterpart, a Democrat, to attend the session “so he can hear firsthand how we are making Florida the number one place in the world for businesses and families to succeed.” Brown is scheduled to appear at the event May 4 at an invitation-only breakfast.

Brown’s office maintains that the state still has a healthy business climate. In response to Scott’s remarks, Brown’s press secretary, Evan Westrup, told the Huffington Post that since the Florida governor last visited the West Coast state, “California has added twice as many jobs as Florida, while paying down debt, building a robust rainy-day fund and taking bold action on issues Gov. Scott continues to ignore, like climate change and poverty.”

Scott also has tried to attract business from at least one other state, Connecticut, the media outlet reported. If he is targeting states with planned minimum wage increases, his list of potential targets could be growing. Earlier this month, for instance, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation increasing the hourly minimum wage to $15 by the end of 2021 in much of the state. And in March, Oregon set in motion a plan to increase its minimum wage over the next six years; by 2022, it will range from $12.50 in rural areas to $14.75 in Portland.

Workforce development issues, including wages, remain a top concern of those in the senior living industry. The Empire State Association of Assisted Living predicted to McKnight’s Senior Living that the minimum wage increase in New York will result in job loss, facility closures and resident moves to more costly nursing homes. And a representative of one of Brown’s state’s largest senior living operators, American Baptist Homes of the West, told McKnight’s Senior Living that the company will experience “significant” labor cost increases due to the minimum wage increase there.