Rick Perry Goes Job Rustling, Again

Gov. Perry buys radio ad time to poach jobs from California. Is his desire for short-term growth a risk to the state and country's future?

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Texas Governor Rick Perry sits down for lunch at The Drive-In Restaurant in Florence, South Carolina, January 17, 2012.

Governor Gov. Rick Perry is airing 30-second radio spots in six California markets inviting businesses to relocate to Texas, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible,” says the governor in the radio spot. “This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and I have a message for California businesses: come check out Texas. There are plenty of reasons Texas has been named the best state for doing business for eight years running. Visit texaswideopenforbusiness.com, and see why our low taxes, sensible regulations and fair legal system are just the thing to get your business moving to Texas.”

The new ad, which you can hear here, was purchased by the Texas Economic Development Division and will last for a week, hitting media markets in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Inland Empire and San Diego.  Gov. Perry has a history of taking jobs from other states, as TIME’s Massimo Calabresi noted last year:

He is a master at the theater of job poaching. During a trip to California last November, Perry crowed that he had stolen 153 businesses from the Golden State in 2010; some 92 companies moved the other way, leaving Perry with a net gain of 61 businesses. And he’s prone to high-visibility gestures. Last October, as Washington State was preparing to vote on an income tax for those earning over $200,000, Perry sent a letter to 90 businesses, including Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon, telling them, “If Washington doesn’t want your business, Texas does.”

Poaching jobs is intertwined with the “Red-State Model” expressed on today’s front page of the Wall Street Journal.  Republicans like Kansas Governor Sam Brownback are attempting to revive their state and party with Perry’s methods for job creation, which netted by far the most jobs in the three years after the recession ended in June 2009.

Texas doesn’t have a personal or corporate income tax, and red states want to cut taxes and government to grow.  In Brownback’s State of the State address last month, he touted reducing the top income tax rate from 6.45% to 4.9%, and then said, “Look out, Texas. Here comes Kansas!”

The mindset must be contagious. Republican governors of Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Ohio have all proposed reducing the individual income-tax to attract jobs, and all five have the Republican control of their legislatures to do it.

But job poaching isn’t cost-free. Perry and Brownback have given up long-term investment in their state for a short term boost to their job numbers.  The WSJ mentions that to make up for his income tax slash, Brownback has “chopped thousands of state jobs, merged government departments, and removed thousands of Kansans from the welfare rolls.” Still the government will be underfunded and, in four years, Kansas will have to cut $780 million to prevent a deficit, which is illegal under state law.

In Texas, the gain in jobs from 2009 to 2011 has been a loss for the Texan student.  During those same three years average spending per enrolled student declined 10.4%, while nationwide, the same measure increased 3.7 percent over that period, according to the Dallas News.

Will Texans, Kansans, and residents of the other 19 states who are controlled by a Republican governor and legislature benefit from a short term boost from job poaching? Or will coming generations in those states lack the skills to compete globally? No one, including Perry and others following his example, knows the answer to that question.  What they do know is that they can score short term political points as they stimulate and boast their state’s job numbers.