Texas governor not the only one after Illinois businesses; also Florida, Wisconsin

The Texas Governor campaigned for Illinois businesses and he spoke earlier this week at a conference. But, he is not alone – other states also want Illinois businesses:

Perry is not the only governor out to siphon commerce this week. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker on Tuesday attended the same Chicago conference, touting his state’s business environment and standing as a bioscience leader. A day earlier, Florida’s Rick Scott sent a “Wish you were here” letter to Illinois business owners, noting that his state is “nipping at the heels of Texas every day” as a place to do business and pointing out that “Illinois’ formula of more taxing and spending ISN’T WORKING.” (Never let it be said Scott is undercapitalized.)…

Perry isn’t just selling Texas in a state weighed down by budget crises and the lack of political will to make the tough choices that solutions will require. He is on a trip financed by a public-private partnership to sell the concepts of lower taxes, less government interference, “a legal system that doesn’t allow for oversuing,” lower workers comp rates…

In this, pitting one state against another is good, Perry argued, in “the same way that it’s good for the White Sox and the Cubbies to compete against each other. If you don’t have competition, you’re not going to get pushed out of your comfort zone. That’s the simplest form I can put it in. I think our Founding Fathers understood that you had these laboratories of innovation and the ones that were good at it would be successful.”

Perry ignores one area of competition present in the Chicago area: between cities and suburbs. There have been numerous discussions in recent years about the tax breaks offered in different communities (here is an example in Hoffman Estates) or Chicago attracting headquarters and businesses back to the city and whether this harms the suburbs. Granted, all of these communities have to deal with the issues and regulations of the State of Illinois. But, it appears a number of businesses have still found places they like including in the Loop, Schaumburg, Northbrook, Deerfield, Naperville, Oak Brook, and other places. Between these localities, businesses can look for favorable settings and take advantages of the peculiarities of each place.

There was also one issue that highlighted a possible problem in Texas that may have been highlighted by a recent tragedy:

Take a good look at how close the fertilizer factory that blew up last week was to a middle school and nursing home in West, Texas, and decide for yourself whether you endorse Texas’ stance on zoning (“We respect local control,” Perry said) or think the state should intervene. Laissez faire isn’t always the way to go.

I assumed Illinois provided for local control over zoning as well…though I’m not sure what happens when it comes to potentially dangerous fertilizer plants.

Rahm Emanuel fires back at Texas Governor Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry tried to entice Illinois businesses to Texas with recent radio spots but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired back yesterday:

Emanuel made pointed reference to a campaign gaffe Perry committed while running for president. At a Republican debate late in 2011, Perry said he had plans to eliminate three federal departments, but could remember only two.

Asked about Perry’s visit at a Monday news conference, Emanuel used the opportunity to tout Chicago’s infrastructure improvements and wealth of well-educated residents thanks to its universities, both of which he said were lacking in Texas.

He pointed to the 14 major businesses that have moved their headquarters to Chicago during his administration, and also drew attention to Texas’ drought.

“In the City of Chicago, we don’t have to measure our showers like they do in Texas,” said Emanuel, a Democrat who served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff…

After a similar effort earlier this year in California, that state’s governor, Jerry Brown, called Perry’s $26,000 ad buy there “not a burp…it’s barely a fart.”

“If they want to get in the game, let them spend $25 million on radio and television,” said Brown, according to the Sacramento Bee.  “Then I’ll take them seriously.”

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn lashed back at Perry last week, telling reporters “We don’t need any advice from Gov. Perry.”

If Perry’s main goal was to draw the fire of Democratic leaders, he seems to have succeeded. I’ve seen some experts suggest ads like those Perry was in do little to attract businesses. At the same time, they might help insert Texas into conversations in a way that often don’t happen in the Chicago area.

It is interesting to note Emanuel’s defense: Chicago has well-educated residents and well-regarded colleges (the University of Chicago and Northwestern are a pretty good pair), has plenty of corporate headquarters, has spent on infrastructure, and don’t have droughts (but apparently does have flooding). Is this the best case for Chicago? I could imagine adding Chicago’s standing as a global city, transportation advantages, central location in the United States, continued leadership in commodity trading, beautiful parks along Lake Michigan, tourism, and well-developed metropolitan region.

By the way, it is fair to compare a state to a city or region? Sure, Chicago may be the center of Illinois life but there still is the rest of the state that may take exception (and vote with Perry to boot).

Texas Governor Rick Perry advertising for Illinois businesses to move to Texas

There is a new radio spot running in the Chicago area featuring Texas Governor Rick Perry suggesting Illinois businesses should move to Texas. Listen to the radio spot here and check out the associated web site texaswideopenforbusiness.com. Here is what the website says:

If you’re a business owner in Illinois, I want to express my admiration for your ability to survive in an environment that, intentionally or not, is 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. If you’re thinking of “just riding it out” you might want to reconsider.

There is an escape route to economic freedom… a route to Texas. The Lone Star State has proven that limited government, low taxes, and a pro-business mindset work wonders when it comes to job creation and a robust economy. If you’re ready for a fresh start in a place that appreciates job creators like you, it’s time to check out Texas.

This echoes the glee in Indiana and Wisconsin when Illinois raised taxes several years ago.

Texas is indeed growing at a rate that a number of states, including Illinois, can only envy. Texas is known for warmer weather (actually, quite hot weather), lower taxes, and is a Republican-dominated state in recent decades. Metropolitan areas like Dallas, Houston, and Austin are booming. And yet, there are still businesses that are willing to locate in and near Chicago. Perhaps it is the world-class city with international connections as well as unique character. Perhaps it is the base of human capital with both high-skill and low-skill workers. Perhaps Chicago’s location in the middle of the country and at the center of transportation networks still matters to some.

I imagine many businesses are already aware of the business climate differences between Illinois and Texas. Is this just an attempt to trumpet the successes of Texas and poke Illinois in the eye?

Same data, different conclusions about poverty in “Rick Perry’s Texas”

With the increased national exposure of Texas Governor Rick Perry comes more people picking apart his political career. While Perry has been quick to tout Texas’ economic progress during his tenure, the same data regarding the state’s poverty rate can be used to reach different conclusions.

A CNN article titled “Poverty grows in Rick Perry’s Texas” has this to say:

While it’s true that Texas is responsible for 40% of the jobs added in the U.S. over the past two years, its poverty rate also grew faster than the national average in 2010.

Texas ranks 6th in terms of people living in poverty. Some 18.4% of Texans were impoverished in 2010, up from 17.3% a year earlier, according to Census Bureau data released this week. The national average is 15.1%.

And being poor in Texas isn’t easy. The state has one of the lowest rates of spending on its citizens per capita and the highest share of those lacking health insurance. It doesn’t provide a lot of support services to those in need: Relatively few collect food stamps and qualifying for cash assistance is particularly tough.

“There are two tiers in Texas,” said Miguel Ferguson, associate professor of social work at University of Texas at Austin. “There are parts of Texas that are doing well. And there is a tremendous number of Texans, more than Perry has ever wanted to acknowledge, that are doing very, very poorly.”

This is the more negative interpretation of this data that highlights a growing underclass in Texas. Perry may talk about job growth but there is a growing segment of the population that isn’t participating in this growth.

On the other side of the spectrum, a “Democrat and urbanist” (Instapundit’s description) suggests “The Texas Story Is Real“:

Lastly, the poverty rate is higher in Texas than in the US as a whole – 17.2% vs. 14.3%, not a small difference. However, the gap actually narrowed between the two during the 2000s, as the chart below in the percentage point change in the poverty rate illustrates.

[The graph shows the “Change in % of Population For Whom Poverty Status Is Determined (2000-2009).” Texas is at roughly 1.8%, the United States as a whole at roughly 1.95%.]

While every statistic isn’t a winner for Texas, most of them are, notably on the jobs front. And if nothing else, it does not appear that Texas purchased job growth at the expense of job quality, at least not at the aggregate level.  There are certainly deeper places one might drill into and find areas of concern or underperformance, but that’s true of everywhere.  And these top line statistics are commonly used to compare cities and states. Unless Texas critics are ready to retire these measures from their own arsenal, it seems clear that Texas is a winner.  The Texas story is real.

While acknowledging that Texas has a higher poverty rate (and this doesn’t include 2010 data), this commentator suggests that Texas had a smaller increase in this population compared to the United States.

This is a classic example of how two sides that are looking at the same data can come to two very different conclusions. For one, the poverty data indicates that Rick Perry is allowing some of Texas’ population to fall behind while the other suggests the poverty data isn’t so bad since the poverty rate grew less than that of the United States as a whole. In this case, I suspect the data itself won’t win over either side since ideology trumps the data.

More broadly, will most Americans consider these fine-tuned arguments when considering Rick Perry as a candidate? Probably not. Quoting a sociologist in a post yesterday, “Questioning someone’s religious sincerity is totally a factor of whether you already like that person.” This may also apply to their supposed economic impact.