I feel compelled to respond to the commentary by Fritz Corrigan about Mosaic leaving Minnesota (“Mosaic’s departure is a wake-up call for Minnesota,” May 23). I am sure that as a retired CEO, he is qualified to look at the company’s financial picture. But I think his glowing comments about Florida vs. Minnesota are way off the mark.

After 12 years as an engineer and manager at Honeywell, I was laid off in the early 1990s and took a job with a tech company in St. Petersburg. I still had two kids at home — one in junior high, the other in elementary school. While it seemed exciting to move to somewhere so different from the Midwest, where we had spent most of our lives, we soon realized Florida was no comparison with Minnesota.

We spent five years there. And when my company was sold, my family begged me to get them back to Minnesota.

While some schools in Florida are adequate, most public schools are substandard when compared with those in Minnesota. Our daughter left Minnesota with a joy for reading but it was quickly squelched by the Florida school, where we had to request that she be allowed to go to the library. Parent-teacher conferences? Forget it. No such thing in Florida schools.

We finally enrolled her in a private elementary school at considerable extra expense. High school for my son was a little better, but he had shortened days because there wasn’t enough funding to have a full day of school.

Corrigan mentioned how the warmer climate in Florida is sure to entice people to move there. Actually, it is hot and humid most of the year. In Minnesota, many people stay inside with the heat on during the winter for three months because it is too cold. In Florida, they stay inside for three months with the air conditioning on because it is too stinking hot to be outside.

Corrigan argues that many jobs don’t come to Minnesota because of the business climate and because people don’t want to move here. I worked in the tech industry for over 40 years and had several independent recruiters tell me it is almost impossible to get technical people to leave Minnesota once they have lived and worked here.

I hope the Mosaic executives and their families can get by on one salary, because it is extremely difficult for spouses to find a decent-paying job in Florida. If you don’t have a job lined up before you go, you may have to work for minimum wage regardless of your experience and qualifications.

Finding good contractors to work on your house in Florida is also challenging. There are good ones, but they are the exception, not the rule. Mosaic executives will miss Minnesota’s plethora of quality, conscientious contractors and artisans who care about their work and do an honest job.

It is true that Florida has no income tax but it does have many other taxes to worry about. Look at all the taxes, including those on clothing and shoes, not just income tax. But more important, what do taxes do for you? Minnesota’s taxes support great schools, an awesome park system, outstanding biking trails, good roads, etc., etc.

My wife and I have lived in six states. Minnesota is where we choose to remain. We are now retired and we choose to stay here, not move to Arizona or Florida. Higher taxes are a small price to pay for all that Minnesota has to offer. Don’t discount “quality of life” as a motivating factor. It is real.

 

Jim Schuetz lives in Plymouth.