by JAY ROOT
After a couple of high profile job-poaching trips to California and Illinois, Gov. Rick Perry is planning a new raid — this time on the Big Apple.
And he’s putting big money behind the state’s big mouth: $1 million for a TV advertising campaign promoting the Lone Star State’s pro-business approach and strong economy, officials say.
Perry is scheduled to travel to New York on Sunday, June 16, and also plans a stop in Connecticut during the four-day trip, the governor’s office is announcing Monday. The message will be identical to the one he has taken to other states: Texas wants you — namely your jobs and investment capital.
“The governor’s job recruitment trips are doing exactly what we intended — getting the word out about the low taxes, smart regulations, fair legal system and skilled workforce that have made Texas a beacon for employers,” said Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed. “We have a formula in Texas that has made us the best state in the nation to live, work, raise a family and run a business — and it’s a formula other states and our federal government would do well to replicate.”
The 30-second ads will feature Texans from a variety of professions — from filmmakers to doctors — extolling the virtues of the state’s economy. They will run on CNBC, FOX News, CNN, ESPN and the Discovery Channel, according to the governor’s office. The spots are scheduled to run for a week, and begin airing Monday, aides said.
The New York ad buy, which dwarfs the ones purchased earlier this year in California and Illinois, appears to be the most aggressive campaign yet by the state’s economic development marketing team.
The trip and the ad campaign is being paid for by TexasOne, a public-private partnership that markets Texas to other states and foreign countries. While the state pays for Perry’s security wherever he goes, no tax dollars are being used in connection with the marketing trip or ad campaign, officials said.
The Republican governor is scheduled to meet with business leaders in New York and Connecticut during the trip. His office is also directly targeting New York area business leaders with a dedicated section on the state’s business marketing website that will tout the Texas model, according to literature from the governor’s office.
It’s no accident that Perry is spreading the news of Texas to New York. Like California, the Empire State gets relatively low grades for the way it treats businesses. According to the Tax Foundation, a Washington think tank, Texas is ranked ninth on the list of top business climates, while New York is ranked last, at 50th.
“Despite moderate corporate taxes, New York scores at the bottom this year by having the worst individual income tax, the sixth-worst unemployment insurance taxes and the sixth-worst property taxes,” the Tax Foundation said in its analysis. “The states in the bottom ten suffer from the same afflictions: complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates.”
While marketing a state’s economic climate to businesses in other states and countries isn’t a new concept, Perry has taken it to a new, confrontational level. When he went to California in February, Perry met with business leaders, talked up Texas to reporters and was featured in a radio ad criticizing the Golden State.
“Building a business is tough. But I hear building a business in California is next to impossible,” Perry said in the ad. “See why our low taxes, sensible regulations and fair legal system are just the thing to get your business moving to Texas.”
The swaggering Texas governor ratcheted up the rhetoric in an ad directly appealing to Illinois’ business leaders, telling them their state’s business climate was “designed for you to fail.”
“With rising taxes and government interference on the upswing, your situation is not unlike a burning building on the verge of collapse,” Perry says in the ad, which urges business leaders to take an “escape route” to Texas. The Illinois ad campaign, which included print and radio spots, cost about $80,000, according to published reports.
The recruiting trips have prompted some eye-rolling scorn in the states where he’s conducted them.
After Perry’s trip to California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown called the state’s $24,000 ad buy targeting the California businesses “barely a fart” and said it would have no impact on the state’s economy. (When a maker of firearms gear, Shield Tactical, announced in May it was relocating operations from California to Texas, Perry attributed it directly to the recruiting trip and ad buy.)
During the governor’s trip to Illinois, meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, warned state businesses that drought-stricken Texas may not have enough water to meet the growing demand.
Emmanuel also took aim directly at Perry. He said the governor, an unsuccessful 2012 presidential candidate, might not be able to remember all the reasons why he was in Illinois — a reference to Perry’s famous “oops” moment when he couldn’t remember the third federal department he wanted to shut down, during a nationally televised debate.
But Perry has made the strong Texas economy his political calling card, and the economic development trips and smash-mouth ad campaigns have generated gobs of free publicity — not only for the state but for its longest-serving governor.
What he ultimately decides to do next isn’t clear, but Perry hasn’t ruled out either a re-election race next year or another run for president in 2016.
“This kind of strategy in which you use free media has always been a hallmark of Rick Perry’s public profile,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s hard not to see this as an ongoing branding effort for the next stage of Rick Perry’s public career.”
JAY ROOT reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.
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