SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought his brash pitch for jobs to California on Monday as he sought to lure businesses to his state with the promise of lower taxes and fewer regulations.
Perry’s private meetings with business leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area weren’t his first effort to tempt companies to leave the Golden State, but this three-day trip has certainly drawn more attention than previous attempts, and the failed Republican presidential candidate welcomed the spotlight.
In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, he criticized California’s regulatory environment, and said Austin, Texas, is poised to become the “next Silicon Valley.”
“Twelve years ago, California wasn’t looking over its shoulder,” he told the newspaper. “They’re not looking over their shoulder now — they’re looking at our backside.”
Perry’s office said the governor will meet with leaders in the high tech, biotechnology, financial, insurance and film industries over the next few days. The trip, being paid for by a public-private marketing partnership called TexasOne, won’t include any public events.
The visit follows a 30-second radio ad that began airing last week in which Perry criticized California’s business climate, drawing a colorful response from Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat.
“Building a business is tough,” Perry says in the ad, which also was paid for by TexasOne. “But I hear building a business in California is next to impossible.”
He added, “There are plenty of reasons Texas has been named the best state for doing business for eight years running.”
The spot ran on six radio stations in the San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Inland Empire and San Diego media markets.
Brown last week dismissed Perry’s $24,000 in radio ads as a cheap gimmick. He said California has been adding more jobs than any other state. Non-farm payrolls increased by nearly 226,000 jobs in 2012.
He also wondered whether Perry might have a change of heart after arriving.
“A lot of these Texans, they come here, they don’t go back,” he told reporters. “Who would want to spend their summers in 110-degree heat inside some kind of a fossil-fueled air conditioner? Not a smart way to go.”
Perry arrived in California just months after voters approved higher income taxes on the wealthy and a quarter-cent increase in the statewide sales tax, adding to its perception as a high-tax state. California’s complex environmental laws have been blamed for long delays in new construction projects, whereas Texas has no such laws and also no income tax.
This isn’t Perry’s first such California trip, as Brown’s 2010 Republican challenger Meg Whitman noted during the campaign, saying the Texas governor enjoyed regular hunting trips to the state and that his prey was jobs. Perry, for his part, has joked that California is a “target-rich environment.”
Still, some business leaders said Perry may have a difficult time persuading companies to leave, particularly in the talent-rich Silicon Valley, known for technological innovation. Perry has declined to name any of the businesses he is targeting.
Kim Polese, chairwoman of financial services company ClearStreet Inc., and former chief executive of software company SpikeSource, said she is glad Perry is spotlighting the issue of California’s competitiveness and the need for changes to its regulations.
“But the startup world is thriving here in the valley,” she said, adding that startups are more concerned with issues such as crowd funding and a ready workforce than taxes and regulations.
Other governors also have engaged in high-profile ploys to try to lure companies and jobs away from states that are perceived as less friendly to business, though it’s unclear how successful those efforts have been.
Governors of several states sensed an opportunity in Illinois in 2011 after the state’s income tax went up. The group included New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who flew in to meet with business leaders.
And Perry isn’t the only big shot to visit California this week. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a fellow Republican, is attending the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., to recruit dairy operators in an effort to double his state’s herd of about 92,000 dairy cows.
Daugaard’s office also recently ran radio commercials and print ads in Minnesota trying to lure businesses across the border. Not to be outdone, Wisconsin also has targeted Minnesota with signs posted along the state line that read, “Open for Business.”
Perry also will visit Los Angeles and Orange County on his trip.
Since his unsuccessful presidential run, Perry has kept mum on his political future. He faces re-election in 2014 and has said he’ll make a decision after the Texas Legislature adjourns this summer.
Perry hasn’t ruled out another shot at the White House or running to remain the nation’s longest-serving governor. But seeking a fourth full term in Texas might not be a cinch, although Democrats aren’t likely to mount a serious challenge for governor in 2014, Perry could face a stiff primary battle from the state’s popular and well-funded attorney general.
Associated Press writers Chet Brokaw in Pierre, S.D., Pat Condon in St. Paul, Minn., Martha Mendoza in San Jose and Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, also contributed to this report.
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