Gov. Rick Perry has been traveling the country, trying to
lure businesses to Texas by touting the state's low taxes and light regulation.
But the state he has run since 2001 faces mounting problems with its roads,
water and other infrastructure.
This year's legislative sessions that ended earlier this month took steps to address some of the problems, but there is broad agreement that the measures don't go nearly far enough.
"We're woefully short of where we need to be," said Sen. John Carona, a Dallas Republican who chairs the Business and Commerce Committee. "It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody in the Legislature."
Several business leaders and legislators said last week that infrastructure problems stem from a lack of political will to do anything that could be called a tax or a fee increase. Many added, however, that blame for the problems doesn't lie with Perry alone.
Perry, the state's longest-serving governor, announced last month that he would not seek another term. But his highly publicized trips to vote-rich California, New York and Illinois to ask businesses to move to Texas sparked speculation that he's playing a longer game, eyeing the 2016 GOP nomination for president.
"The signs certainly point to him thinking about it," said James Henson, who directs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. "Pretty clearly, Gov. Perry making these trips is generating a lot of free media."
The governor believes he has a good story to tell.
"With a workforce of over 12 million people, an unemployment rate that has been below the national average for over six years and as the national leader in exports for the 11th year in a row, Texas is one the most successful economies in this nation," his spokesman, Josh Havens, said in an email. "By sticking to the conservative principles of low taxes, smart regulations, fair courts and restrained spending, we have made Texas the best place to live, work, raise a family and start a business."
The consequences of the low taxes Perry brags about could undermine his narrative, though.
The state's credit card for highway construction and maintenance is almost maxed out, while every day, Texas gets 1,500 new arrivals, many of whom add to the congestion on its roads.
Meanwhile, voters will be asked in November to put up $2 billion from the state's rainy-day fund to deal with a water shortage magnified by a historic drought.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn used Texas' water problems against Perry in April, just after the Texas governor purchased radio advertising and announced a business-recruiting trip to Chicago.
"His state, frankly, is water challenged, and any company thinking of going to Texas better check on their water," the Associated Press quoted Quinn as saying.
Carona said if voters approve the $2 billion for water, it will cover "only a portion of the total need" to fund the interconnected system of reservoirs he believes the state will need even if the drought ends.
"I never really object to taking anything to the voters, but I'm concerned that voters believe it will solve the problem," Carona said.
The low taxation Perry touts is only one of three major factors businesses consider when they weigh whether to locate somewhere, said Robert P. Inman, a
Most Popular Stories
- Bipartisan Budget Deal Gets Key Support in House
- TFA Recruiting DACA Recipients
- Bitcoin Clones Lurch Onto Financial Scene
- Scotch Whisky Sales Raise Distillers' Spirits
- Clinton to Keynote Annual Simmons Leadership Conference
- Holiday Shopping Off to a Slow Start This Season
- Health Coverage Disparities Emerge Among States
- Fake Deaf Interpreter Was Hallucinating, Has Schizophrenia
- Podesta Likely to Reject Keystone XL
- Tea Party Glum in Face of Bipartisan Budget Deal