Just days before Washington state voters decide whether to impose a first-ever state tax on six-figure incomes, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has jumped into the middle of the fray.
With a week to go before the Washington ballot initiative, Perry, a Republican, has taken an unusually aggressive swipe at Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat. Perry sent letters Friday to 90 leading businesses in Washington – including Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks – inviting them to relocate to Texas, which also has no income tax.
"If Washington doesn't want your business, Texas does,” said Perry. “Texas has no personal income tax and no interest in getting one."
Most Washington business leaders are lined up against the proposal, which would impose a 5 percent tax on individuals earning $200,000 or more a year and a 9% tax on those making more than $500,000.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the state’s most prominent billionaire, has divided loyalties: his company is fighting the tax proposal on behalf of its many highly-paid workers, but the ballot initiative was sponsored by Gates father, a retired lawyer who argues that Washington needs the money to fund education. The software mogul himself has not taken a position on the tax, which stands to cost him tens of millions of dollars a year.
The latest poll says the anticipated vote on the income tax initiative is too close to call.
A Perry spokesman denied that the governor was meddling to defeat the Washington initiative, but conceded that the timing – a week before the vote – was no coincidence.
“It seemed like the right time to do it, as businesses are focused on the election and on the possibility of paying higher taxes,” said Ray Sullivan.
Washington and Texas are among seven states that impose no income tax, contributing to the fact that both are highly rated as places to conduct business.
It is common for governors to recruit individual companies to relocate but unusual to make a blanket indictment of the business climate in another state. It is also unusual for governors to try to influence the outcome of ballot initiatives in another state.
Gregoire, who supports the tax proposal, shrugged off Perry’s missives.
“We're serious about keeping businesses here and attracting new ones to the state,” she said in a written statement issue by her office. “We've consistently ranked in the top five in the Forbes list of best states to do business—ahead of Texas."
Gregoire spokesman Cory Curtis said the governor was not offended by Perry’s letters, but would not comment on whether the governor thought that Perry was trying to influence the vote. Asked what kind of relationship the conservative Perry and the liberal Gregoire have, Curtis said, “I don’t think they have any relationship.”
In Forbes’ latest rankings, Washington placed fifth among states with a positive business climate, while Texas ranked seventh. Washington ranked 28th for the lowest business costs, and Texas was slightly better – 26th. Surprisingly, Washington bested Texas for imposing a lighter regulatory burden on business, ranking 5th while Texas ranked 17th.
“We think that Washington will continue to be a better place [than Texas] to do business, whether or not the income tax initiative passes,” said Curtis.
Perry’s spokesman said that Texas was the top-ranked state by business cable network CNBC and CEO magazine, and in most rankings, rated higher than Washington.
Gregoire, like most Washington state politicians, has opposed the imposition of a state income tax, and never pushed it as governor. She has endorsed the ballot initiative, but vowed to veto any effort by the legislature to extend the tax to other taxpayers.
More than $8.4 Million raised since September 24; Reports more than $2 Million Cash On Hand
AUSTIN – The Texans for Rick Perry campaign today announced it has raised $36,709,924 this election cycle from 21,276 contributors, a significant increase in money raised and number of contributors from past elections. The campaign raised $8,404,584.75 between Sept. 24 and Oct. 23 this year, including $230,160 in online contributions. The campaign reports $2,032,231.54 cash on hand.
“Gov. Perry continues to draw generous and consistent support from Texans from across the state who believe in the values he has worked hard to instill throughout our state government, values based on less spending, lower taxes and reasonable regulations,” said Texans for Rick Perry spokesman Mark Miner. “Gov. Perry is proud to have broad support of his leadership and remains committed to efforts that will strengthen our economy, create jobs, improve education and secure our border.”
During this reporting period, approximately 1,400 more contributors have given to the campaign compared to the same periods in 2002 and 2006, when 1273 and 974 individuals contributed to the campaign, respectively. Compared to the reporting periods from Sept. 24 – Oct. 23 in 2002, 2006 and 2010, the campaign raised $3,395,127.83, $2,633,490.76, and $8,404,584.75, respectively.
Raising nearly $5 million more in this reporting period from past elections, Texans for Rick Perry has gained significant momentum in its fundraising efforts, signaling ongoing and growing support of Gov. Perry’s leadership from Texans across the state. In this reporting period, more than 96 percent of contributions are from Texas donors and 66 percent of contributions are less than $500.
Join over 100 groups in supporting Gov. Perry for re-election
HOUSTON – Today Gov. Rick Perry received the endorsement of former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush for the general election. They were joined by representatives from more than 100 organizations and hundreds of leaders who have endorsed Gov. Perry’s re-election, highlighting his diverse, statewide support, which represents millions of Texans.
“Gov. Perry’s leadership and proven track record is an essential component in keeping Texas a national leader in job creation,” said former President George H.W. Bush. “Texas has become a prime example of what happens when you mix fiscal responsibility, strong leadership and a vision of moving a state forward. It is an honor to endorse Gov. Rick Perry for the general election.”
George H.W. Bush was sworn in as president of the United States in January 1989 and served until January 1993. During his term in office, the Cold War ended; the threat of nuclear war was drastically reduced; the Soviet Union ceased to exist, replaced by a democratic Russia with the Baltic States becoming free; the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was reunified with Eastern Europe; and he put together an unprecedented international coalition to liberate Kuwait.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush is a tireless advocate of volunteerism, helping countless charities and humanitarian causes. Today she and President Bush serve as Co-Chairs of C-Change, an organization that represents more than 150 individuals and groups that fight cancer. She also enjoys reading to children at schools and hospitals across the nation.
“I am deeply honored to receive the endorsement of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush,” said Gov. Perry. “His devotion and leadership, to our country, has brought forth inspiration to us all.”
Gov. Perry’s endorsements highlight the broad-based support he has from diverse groups and industries, ranging from agriculture, health care and retail sales, to construction, law enforcement and education.
In his remarks, Gov. Perry emphasized the creation of 850,000 Texas jobs in the last ten years and the recent drop in the unemployment rate in Texas; leaving the national rate nearly two points above ours. He also touted our state’s low taxes, predictable regulatory climate, fair legal system and education efforts as crucial elements that have helped make it a national leader in exports and Fortune 1000 companies.
MARSHALL, TEXAS—Even in this small, quaint East Texas town, 20 miles from the Louisiana border, everything seems larger than life.
From the endless rolling hills to the massive German shepherds that gave chase during my ill-advised runs in the countryside to the heaping portions of barbeque at the Country Tavern in nearby Kilgore (where I, keeping kosher, settled for a huge green salad), stuff in Texas just seems bigger.
Politics, too, looms larger and more potent here than elsewhere. A former judge and the first Republican to represent this district since Reconstruction, Rep. Louie Gohmert is the kind of conservative that makes Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin seem squishy.
Among his more notable achievements, he voted against both TARP and the stimulus; he supported a two-month tax income tax holiday for all Americans; he co-sponsored legislation that would compel all presidential candidates to make available certified copies of their birth-certificates; he went on national television to decry the scourge of “terror babies,” or the Islamist equivalent of anchor babies born to foreigners in the U.S.; and he accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of seeking the power “to force you to eat more fruits and vegetables.”
It’s not just the politicians who embody supercharged conservative values, but the grassroots activists too. Earlier this year, a billboard in Marshall made national waves, asking passersby, simply: “Voted Obama? Embarrassed Yet?”
Another billboard just outside my hotel was all black with the following message scrawled in bright yellow writing: “Had Enough of: Stimulus…Bailouts…Homosexual Marriage? Then Vote Republican.” There didn’t seem to be anyone in particular who approved that message.
But what’s really big in Texas nowadays is economic recovery, especially compared to California. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that more than half of the net new jobs created in the United States over the past 12 months originated here in Texas: 119,000 out of 214,000. Amazingly, during those same twelve months, California shed 112,000 net jobs—almost the same number that Texas created.
While Californians have been afflicted by a 12.4% unemployment rate—nearly three points above the national average—Texans enjoy an 8.1% rate, a point and a half below the U.S. as a whole.
So how has the Lone Star State done it? Simple: lower taxes, less spending, and a friendly business climate.
Unlike California and many states in the union, Texas has no state income tax. So while states like Washington, which also has no such tax, are entertaining ballot measures that would actually add a state income tax in the middle of a recession, Texas has remained blissfully free of such a levy. And while Texas imposes an oil severance tax, which we in California still (thankfully) don’t have, the burden it imposes pales in comparison to our cumulative tax load.
Furthermore, the state government in Austin spends much less than comparably-sized states. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the state’s budget in 2008 amounted to 17.3% of GDP, five points less than the nation as a whole and eight points less than the Golden State. Spending per capita in California is 33% greater than in Texas. Indeed, it’s difficult for the legislature to spend much when it meets only every other year.
But most impressively, the state goes out of its way to recruit businesses to its precincts. Governor Rick Perry famously takes “hunting trips” in California for businesses sick and tired of our deadly combination of high taxes and absurd regulation. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband recently moved workers from the Orange County office of his CB Richard Ellis real estate company to Dallas.
According to the Claremont Institute’s William Voegeli, between 2000 and 2007, California lost 1.1 million people while Texas absorbed 500,000 new arrivals. And whereas California for the first time in more than 100 years will likely not receive a new congressional seat after the 2010 decennial redistricting, Texas is set to gain as many as four new congressmen.
So sure enough, Texas isn’t just big, it’s getting bigger, and at the expense of states like our own. Until we turn things around quickly in California by learning from the Lone Star state, Texas will keep eating our lunch.
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today received the endorsement of the Texas Construction Association Political Action Committee (TCA PAC) for the general election.
“Gov. Perry’s fiscally conservative track record of supporting efforts to improve the business environment in Texas and create new jobs has helped our industry flourish,” said Steve Rians, Chairman of the Board of the Texas Construction Association. “We are proud to have the opportunity to endorse Gov. Perry in the general election.”
The Texas Construction Association was established in 1998 by Texas construction subcontractor and supplier organizations to promote the common interests of these organizations in Texas. TCA is comprised of 15 member associations. Through these associations and direct memberships, TCA has over 2,300 company members which collectively employ over 175,000 employees.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Texas Construction Association PAC,” said Gov. Perry. “The members of this association help build Texas schools, office buildings and factories, and I will continue to support their efforts so that our great state can continue to lead the nation.”
AUSTIN – Today Gov. Rick Perry received the endorsement of the Houston Police Retired Officers Association for the general election.
“Gov. Perry, both as a legislator and as governor, has consistently demonstrated his dedicated and loyal service to the citizens of Texas,” said Bill Elkin, executive director of the Houston Police Retired Officers Association. “He is specially recognized for his support for law enforcement and the peace officers who valiantly serve throughout all of Texas. With over 1,400 members, we proudly endorse Gov. Perry for re-election.”
The Houston Police Retired Officers Association (HPROA) was created by a group of retired officers, dedicated to improving pension and other benefits for retirees and surviving spouses. The HPROA is recognized by all elected officials, the general public, and members of the Law Enforcement Community as the representatives of all Houston Police Department retired officers.
“It is a real honor to receive the endorsement of the dedicated professionals of the Houston Police Retired Officers Association,” said Gov. Perry. “These brave men and women have given a life of service and sacrifice to families and communities across our state. They have protected our quality of life for years and I look forward to continue making sure that Texas remains the best state to find a job and raise a family.”
The Houston Police Retired Officers Association joins the following list of regional supporters: Harris County Deputies Organization, Houston Police Officers’ Union, Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341, and the Houston Realty Business Coalition.
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today received the endorsement of the Texas Restaurant Association Political Action Committee (TRA PAC) for re-election in 2010.
“The Texas Restaurant Association Political Action Committee is proud to support Gov. Perry in his re-election bid,” said John Gessner, chair of the TRA PAC. “The governor has worked tirelessly to uphold the policies that create the type of business environment that allows job creation and economic strength. Texas continues to lead the nation in job creation, thanks to Gov. Perry’s efforts. As the largest private sector employer in the state with $35 billion in sales, the restaurant industry is a big part of the Texas economy and we have benefitted from Gov. Perry’s work.”
The Texas Restaurant Association was formed in 1937 to serve as an advocate and indispensable resource for the foodservice industry in Texas. Today, as a leading business association, TRA represents the state’s $35 billion restaurant industry, which is comprised of 50,000-plus locations and a workforce of more than one million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation, the association represents, educates and promotes the growing industry.
“It is a great honor to receive the support of the Texas Restaurant Association PAC,” said Gov. Perry. “The restaurant industry plays an essential role in keeping our economy strong and is crucial to the success of our state’s thriving tourism industry. I will continue working to ensure the business climate in Texas remains friendly so that all businesses can grow and create jobs.”
AUSTIN – Today Gov. Perry received the endorsement of the Southwest Tow Operators Association for the general election in November.
“I am happy to announce our endorsement of Gov. Perry for re-election,” said Dan Messina, president of the Southwest Tow Operators Association. “Gov. Perry has proven his commitment to protect and preserve the rights of small businesses across the state of Texas. His proven leadership and conservative values have helped maintain a good environment for small businesses statewide.”
The Southwest Tow Operators Association was formed in 2006 to unite towers in Texas and the southwest. They are the largest towing association in Texas and the nation, representing over 7,500 professional tow operators. They provide certification, training and education and professional knowledge or key components of the association. In Texas they are split up in seven different regions, each consisting of regional boards.
“It is an honor to receive the endorsement of the Southwest Tow Operators Association,” said Gov. Perry. “The men and women in the towing industry are an integral part of our state’s vitality and our drivers’ safety. Texans rely on the towing industry to keep our roads safe and our state moving in the right direction.”
It is often pointed out that the states make great laboratories for political-science experiments. And an experiment has been underway for quite a while testing the liberal model — high taxes, extensive regulation, many government-provided social services, union-friendly laws — against the conservative model — low taxes, limited regulation and social services, right-to-work laws. The results are increasingly in. As Rich Lowry reports in National Review Online, the differences between California and Texas are striking. Between August 2009 and August 2010, the nation created a net of 214,000 jobs. Texas created more than half of them, 119,000. California lost 112,000 jobs in that period. Lowry writes:
Texas is a model of governmental restraint. In 2008, state and local expenditures were 25.5 percent of GDP in California, 22.8 in the U.S., and 17.3 in Texas. Back in 1987, levels of spending were roughly similar in these places. The recessions of 1991 and 2001 spiked spending everywhere, but each time Texas fought to bring it down to pre-recession levels. “Because of this policy decision,” the Texas Public Policy Foundation report notes, “Texas’ 2008 spending burden remained slightly below its 1987 levels — a major accomplishment.”
The result has been dramatic: “A new Texas Public Policy Foundation report notes that Texas experienced a decline of 2.3 percent from its peak employment [in the current recession], while the nation declined 5.7 percent and California 8.7 percent.” And people have been voting with their feet: A thousand people a day are moving to Texas. It will likely gain four House seats next year, while California for the first time since it became a state in 1850 will gain none.
So, again, the evidence would seem to be overwhelming: high tax-and-spend policies and regulation produces stagnation and unemployment, low tax-and-spend policies and regulatory restraint produce the opposite.