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PD Editorial: Tall tales? A look at Texas' sales pitch

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is wagering that a little bit of boasting will pay off big for the Lone Star state.

But Perry isn't betting much. No wonder. With the cards in his hand, we wouldn't either.

Perry recorded a radio ad extolling his state's low taxes and its aversion to red tape and litigation and touting its workforce. He invited California business owners to “come check out Texas.”

You may know that already because Perry got a big helping of free publicity for his sales pitch. But you almost certainly won't hear the ad, because he spent just $24,000 on air time, enough to reach — well, about as many people as if he'd tried to whisper across the Pecos.

Still, it wouldn't be neighborly to ignore the governor. So, let's take up his invitation and “check out Texas.”

Prospective employers should know that when it comes to graduating from high school, Texas is last in the country.

How has the Lone Star State responded to that sad fact? Perry and the Legislature slashed $5.4 billion from public education in the present state budget. And the school districts? They filed a lawsuit (Sorry, tort reformers). This week, they prevailed. A court said the state's funding mechanism for K-12 is unconstitutional.

Texas students may not earn diplomas, but they aren't deprived on Friday nights. High schools are spending heavily on football stadiums — more than 100 in the past five years, all financed by taxpayers, according to Bloomberg News. Some of them seat upwards of 20,000 fans and feature video replay boards, artificial turf fields and separate training facilities.

Maybe they can offer some help to the Dallas Cowboys. They still play in the NFL, don't they?

Let's hope those high school football players, and their fans for that matter, don't get hurt, because, when it comes to health care, Texas, again, has big problems.

No state has more uninsured residents, and Texas is dead set against expanding coverage under the federal health reform law. Meanwhile, a Gallup survey ranked Texans 13th in the nation for obesity, 26th for smoking and 48th for regular dental care.

Perry didn't mention any of that in his ad. He didn't mention his state's inadequate water and transportation systems either. But he did bring them up in his State of the State address last month in Austin.

We don't mean to imply that the governor is telling tall tales or peddling snake oil. Texas has added jobs and residents in recent years, and some of them came from California.

It's true that the Golden State needs to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and expand businesses. It's also true that many of the companies claimed by Perry as new Texans have kept their corporate offices and research-and-development operations here, moving only low-wage functions elsewhere.

Perry is headed to California next week. He may convince a few people to move, but most businesses probably will say something similar to the message delivered by Gov. Jerry Brown. No, not the colorful one you probably heard about, but this: “People invest their money where these big things have occurred. The ideas, the structures, the climate, the opportunity is right here on the Pacific Rim.” About 1,000 miles from Texas.

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