San Francisco, June 11, 2014 — Texas Gov. Rick Perry made an appearance at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco following a cherry-picking jobs visit around the Golden State. Calling it “healthy competition” to lure California-based companies to the Lone Star State with cash and massive tax incentives worth hundreds of millions, the audience responded with restrained booing and hissing.
On moving jobs to Texas
Californians are still smarting following the spring 2014 announcements of deals uprooting Toyota from Torrance to West Plano and Occidental Petroleum from Los Angeles to Houston. Although the audience clearly included Perry supporters, Bay Area audiences are in no mood for Gov. Perry’s house call on the current market darling electric-car maker Tesla. When asked, “Is Google next?” but apparently not sensing the mood, Perry added, “There’s a nice hot sauce company down in Temecula we’re talking to.”
In dishing out a compliment to California’s “finest wine in the world,” beautiful coastline, forests and parks, the governor said, “Just like I was rooting for California Chrome, I don’t come here to criticize the California economic model. I will let you come to your own conclusion about what policies work best.” Beyond extending that golden welcome, in a seeming admission that some Texas locations have scant quality of life offerings, Perry said, “Towns have had a renaissance — well, there was nothing to renew actually — in some of these South Texas towns.”
Asked if he doesn’t fear a race to the bottom, Perry responded, “No. I am not worried about it in the least.” He said that some people claim, “Well, all you’re doing is moving jobs from here to there.” The governor countered that he doesn’t see it that way when a relocated company flourishes under more attractive terms.
California and Texas are big
“Texas actively competes with California in tech jobs. I happen to think that competition is important. America needs California and Texas to lead the charge,” said Gov. Perry. Noting that together the two states are home to 20 percent of America’s population and share 70 percent of the USA border with Mexico, the Texas governor added, “What happens in California and Texas matters to the rest of the nation.”
A Laguna Beach sunset
On an afternoon in February 2013, the governor recalled, he met with 30 business leaders in Laguna Beach in an earlier foray into California. As the meeting drew to a close, a dazzling sunset reflected its brilliance on the Pacific’s sparkling waters. The moment did not go unnoticed. As Perry tells it, he pointed to the scene and said, “That sunset is an example of how something could be screwed up so bad that you would leave that.” He added, “This is about America. I don’t make any apologies but I want to push that conversation.”
Politics and a Lightening Round
Greg Dalton, Founder of Climate One and V.P. of the Commonwealth Club of California, the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit public forum, led the Q&A. Noting that “not many Republican governors come here,” the audience was eager for more insights into Gov. Perry’s positions. Offering to do a lightening round of yes/no answers, Perry shared several quick viewpoints.
On states that could shift jobs out of Texas: “Governor Rick Scott of Florida. This guy makes me nervous; he’s doing a really good job of it.”
On homosexuality: “I may have the genetic coding inclined to be an alcoholic, but I choose not to, so I think it’s the same.”
On marijuana laws: “Will Texas legalize marijuana? No. If you want to smoke weed and get high, go to Colorado.”
On challenges for Texas: “Power, transportation infrastructure, water. Texas actually has enough water. It’s just in the wrong places.” Also, “a very serious situation” over border controls and “unprecedented rate of 1,000 per day put into facilities.”
On fracking: “There is no legitimate study that shows that fracking contaminates the water base.
On a carbon tax favored by George Schultz: “I think we have enough resources – if they’re allocated properly – without raising new taxes. My answer is no.”
On his 2012 presidential primary bid: “When I ran in 2011, I was actually the front runner. It was three of the most exciting hours of my life.”
On lessons learned by Eric Cantor: “He probably wishes he had spent more time with the people he loves in his own constituency rather than in Washington D.C.”
On Speaker of the House Boehner: “At 5 p.m. yesterday, everything was fine. By 7 p.m., they must’ve been saying, ‘Damn, I can be the next majority leader.’ Game on. Man, some awesome politics. It’ll be fun.”
On any impact of midterm elections on Obamacare: “No.”
On Jeb Bush: “Very capable. Good guy.”
On Hillary Clinton: “Very, very capable.”
On the 49ers: “I’m actually into basketball.”
On everything: “I’m quite bullish. Solutions are somewhere, in a brilliant mind in America, and we need to promote that everyday.”