SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry began his latest visit to California on a quest to lure businesses to move jobs to his state by promoting low taxes and lax regulations.
The former Republican presidential candidate started meeting with business leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday. His office said Perry will meet with leaders in the high tech, biotechnology, financial, insurance and film industries during his three-day trip, but declined to name any of the businesses he is targeting.
The visit follows a 30-second radio ad that began airing last week in which Perry criticized California’s business climate.
“Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible,” Perry says in the ad, which was paid for by a public-private marketing partnership called TexasOne.
Perry’s visit did not include any public events, but 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,” the newspaper reported.
“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.”
Some business leaders said Perry may have a difficult time persuading businesses to leave the Golden State, particularly in the talent-rich Silicon Valley, known for technological innovation.
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 some changes.
“But the startup world is thriving here in the valley,” she said. She says startups are more concerned with issues like crowd funding and a ready workforce than taxes and regulations.
“I don’t think it’s impossible for other regions to create innovation centers, but the best talent in the world today gravitates to one place, here,” Polese said. “And you need that talent to keep up with the speed at which technology is happening.”
Perry’s foray to California is not his first, and other governors have engaged in high-profile ploys to try to lure businesses and jobs away from states that are perceived as less friendly to business, though it’s unclear how successful those efforts have been.
The Texas governor is not even the only dignitary to visit this week. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a fellow Republican, and state agriculture officials are attending the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., this week in an effort to recruit dairy operators as that state seeks to double its current 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, and Wisconsin has put signs on its border with Minnesota that say “Open for Business.”
The governors of several states sensed an opportunity in Illinois in 2011 after that state raised its income tax, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who flew to Illinois to meet with business leaders.
Since flaming out as a presidential candidate, 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 cakewalk: 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.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, last week dismissed Perry’s $24,000 in radio ads as a cheap gimmick that would barely make a dent. 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 will also visit Los Angeles and Orange County on his trip, which is being paid for by TexasOne.