by PATRICK SVITEK
Gov. Greg Abbott is wasting no time pitching Texas’ business climate to companies elsewhere, dangling the state’s new tax-relief package in front of Connecticut-based General Electric.
“I’m sure governors from across America are knocking down your door since you openly declared your displeasure with Connecticut’s proposed $700 million increase in taxes on businesses over the next two years,” Abbott wrote Wednesday to GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt. “But how many of my colleagues just passed a total relief tax package of $3.8 billion like we did last week in Texas?”
The letter marks Abbott’s latest effort to pick up where his jobs-poaching predecessor left off. Like former Gov. Rick Perry, Abbott has said he wants to travel the country and world to attract companies to Texas, especially in the wake of a legislative session that made the state more business-friendly.
In addition to touting Texas’ low-tax environment, Abbott plugged the state’s economic incentives programs and its commitment to educating its workers. Abbott made pre-kindergarten a priority throughout the session and last week signed into law a so-called Governor’s University Research Initiative that uses leftover money from a now-defunct incentives program to lure world-class scholars to Texas schools.
According to his office, Abbott has made similar appeals to two other companies based in Connecticut: insurance giants Aetna and Travelers.
GE has all but threatened to leave over a budget deal that would raise taxes on corporations and the state’s wealthiest residents. In a statement last week, the international conglomerate said the plan makes businesses like it “seriously consider whether it makes any sense to continue to be located in this state.”
A spokesman for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, brushed off the appeal from the red-state governor.
“Connecticut has one of the lowest — one of the lowest — effective corporate tax rates in America,” Devon Puglia said in a statement. “It’s that simple.”
Asked about Abbott’s letter, a GE spokesman would only say the company is exploring its options for moving its corporate headquarters. “It is too soon to comment further on the process,” Seth Martin added in a statement.
Texas is not the only state seeking to capitalize on GE’s dissatisfaction with Connecticut. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal indicated Tuesday his state will make a play for the company as well, and Florida is reportedly in the mix.
The letter was first reported by Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
PATRICK SVITEK reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.
Then-Attorney General Greg Abbott campaigns at the Old Hays County Courthouse in January 2014. MERCURY PHOTO by JON SHAPLEYEmail | Print