ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The head of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce is defending his support of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s efforts to lure Missouri businesses to Texas.
“That’s not what this is about,” Chamber President Dan Mehan says. “This is about trying to make Missouri more competitive as far as passing [HB] 253 into law so we can keep our costs low, the cost of doing business.”
HB 253 is an income tax cut that was passed by the Missouri Legislature but vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon. Republicans will attempt to override that veto in a session next month.
“Governor Perry’s coming into Missouri but he’s going to be touting Texas but at the same time he’s going to be sharing the success of what lowering the cost of doing business means for Missouri and what’s at stake with this attempted veto override,” Mehan says.
Perry plans to speak this week at a pair of St. Louis events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and other tax cut proponents.
The Missouri Club for Growth, a political action committee, says it may recruit candidates to run in primary elections against Republican legislators who vote against the override. Mehan would not say if he supports the Missouri Club For Growth’s position.
“I’m hopeful with our chances in the veto session coming up that we can hopefully get a success story here and be able to give Governor Nixon the same tools that Governor Perry has as far as taxes go,” Mehan said.
Perry’s visit follows a $100,000 radio ad buy and $106,000 television ad buy in Missouri by TexasOne, a public-private marketing partnership. The ads feature Gov. Perry’s voice as he touts his state’s tax structure and encourages Missouri businesses to leave for the Lone Star State.
Gov. Nixon responded to Perry’s ads on Twitter this weekend by touting Missouri’s schools, its credit rating, and poverty rate. In one example, Nixon said his state’s favorable tax climate “helps Missouri’s economy succeed, not secede,” a reference to Perry’s suggestion in 2009 that Texas had a right to leave the union.
Critics of Texas’ pro-business environment point to the state’s high poverty rate and nation-leading number of uninsured residents. Nearly one in five Texans live in poverty and one in four, including children, don’t have health insurance.
Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau Chief Christie Hoppe says while Texans do brag about their job creation numbers, quality of life is a topic of discussion there.
“There is some concern, especially among moderate Democrats, that we are not putting enough money back into infrastructure, back into schools, back into health care, back into other issues that make living more worthwhile,” she says.
“[Perry’s] emphasis has always been on economic development, creating jobs and allowing people to work their own way out of poverty,” Hoppe adds. “That’s just the philosophy of Texas as it has been for the past decade or two.”