Texas vs. California: The increasingly testy Rick Perry-Jerry Brown jobs fight
Perry says the Lone Star State is better for business, and across California, critics sigh with exasperation
Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to take California's jobs.
More specifically, Perry is trying to lure high-tech companies to Texas by pitching his state as a low-tax, low-regulation, and therefore low-cost place to do business. But in the process, he's irked some Californians who say Texas' GOP governor has no business in their state to begin with. Chief among Perry's critics? California Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
Last week, Perry rather aggressively went up with a 30-second radio ad in California arguing that the Golden State was bad for business, and boasting that Texas had lower tax rates, "sensible regulations, and [a] fair legal system" that would benefit businesses.
Brown was not pleased with Perry's encroachment, dismissing the ads as "barely a fart."
"A lot of these Texans, they come here, they don't go back," Brown told reporters. "Who would want to spend their summers in 110-degree heat inside some kind of a fossil-fueled air conditioner?"
Of course, Brown's rhetorical slap generated even more attention for Perry's pitch, especially with the Texas governor embarking on a four-day trip to meet with business leaders in the Golden State. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News on Monday, Perry said that California had become "uncompetitive" and hailed Austin as "the new Silicon Valley."
"Twelve years ago, California wasn't looking over its shoulder," he told the paper. "They're not looking over their shoulder now — they're looking at our backside."
For Perry — who has credited himself for the so-called "Texas miracle" that kept the state's unemployment rate below the national average during the recession — the question now is whether his sales pitch will pan out. Unsurprisingly, the view from California is that it won't.
"Poor Texas. With its high dropout rate, lack of health insurance coverage and economic disparities, the Lone Star State appears to be desperate, or least its governor is," an editorial in the Sacramento Bee reads. The editorial goes on to spotlight a number of other factors that could impede a Texas tech boom, such as the fact that the state ranks dead last in the nation in the percentage of residents with high school diplomas.
As for Perry's biggest business bona fide, his Texas Miracle, that success story has been under fire since he unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination. Though Texas did create jobs faster than most of the nation during the recession, critics contend that was largely an illusion caused by the state's rapid population growth. Further, as Paul Krugman noted, many of those new jobs were low-wage and low-skill, hardly the sort of thing associated with venture-capital-rich tech businesses.
Supporters of Perry's aggressive marketing contend that California's nearly 10 percent unemployment rate is a sign that the state is hindering economic growth and driving businesses away. Texas' unemployment rate, meanwhile, is well below the national average, at 6.1 percent.
Yet while some big-name companies like Apple and Facebook have recently announced plans to expand their footprint in Texas, California's tech industry has also grown. For instance, just last month, Samsung announced plans for a major expansion in San Jose.
Though it's unclear if Perry's pitch will result in a mass tech exodus, the general consensus on both sides is that, politically, he can only benefit from the effort.
"Perry's getting exactly what he wanted," Brown's Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, told San Francisco radio station KQED. "He's getting all kinds of press up and down the state, and why? Well, because he's leaning in. He's in the game. He's getting in our heads."