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Weeks before he was elected to a third full term in a GOP landslide, Gov. Rick Perry was courting businesses in a bluer state — Washington. The Seattle Times reported Oct. 21 that Perry had sent letters to about 90 "top employers and a few business associations in Washington" urging companies worried about taxes in the Evergreen State to relocate.
In Tuesday's elections, Washingtonians rejected a proposal to levy a graduated income tax on the state's wealthiest residents — a 5 percent tax rate on annual taxable earnings exceeding $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for couples, according to the Times. Individuals earning more than $500,000 and couples earnings more than $1 million would have faced a 9 percent tax rate.
In an Oct. 20 letter to the the president and chief executive officer of Inrix Inc., a tech company based in Kirkland, Washington, Perry wrote: "As the State of Washington considers a multibillion-dollar tax increase for citizens and businesses... I invite you to consider your future in America's new land of opportunity: the State of Texas."
And to sweeten the deal: "If Washington doesn't want your business, Texas does. Texas has no personal income tax and no interest in getting one."
According to the Times, Gov. Chris Gregoire's office sent the newspaper this response to its query about Perry's invitation: "We're proud of Inrix and proud they call Washington home. I told them that when I visited their headquarters in May. We're serious about keeping businesses here and attracting new ones to the state. We've consistently ranked in the top five in the Forbes list of best states to do business — ahead of Texas."
Touché. We couldn't resist checking Gregoire's claim that Washington has consistently beat out Texas on the Forbes list.
In its fifth annual ranking of the best states for business, Forbes named Washington the fifth best state, following Utah, Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado. Texas trudged in seventh.
Forbes says it bases state-by-state rankings on relevant indicators topped by business costs, which take into account labor expenses and the impact of utilities and taxes. Lesser factors include labor supply and the state's regulatory environment and economic climate, its growth prospects and general quality of life, according to the magazine's article on the 2010 rankings.
In 2009, Washington placed second with Texas landing eighth. In 2008, Washington ranked third, Texas ninth.
However, Washington hasn't always trumped Texas. In 2007, Texas ranked fourth and Washington fifth. And in 2006, Texas was No. 2, while Washington was Number 12.
So has Washington consistently come ahead of Texas on the Forbes list? Washington has ranked in the top five states to do business in four of the five years the publication has been in the ranking business. Texas has landed on that list twice, besting Washington both times.
Since 2007 Washington has "consistently" ranked in the top five states business-wise, pushing ahead of Texas for three of the past four years.
We rate Gregoire's statement as Half True.
Seattle Times, Texas governor uses I-1098 to court Washington business, Oct. 21, 2010
The State Column, Gov. Gregoire to Gov. Perry: 'Don't mess with Washington,' Oct. 26, 2010
Office of the Governor, Letter from Gov. Rick Perry to Bryan Mistele, president and CEO of Inrix, Inc., Oct. 20, 2010
Forbes, Special Report: The best states for business, July 11, 2007
Forbes, Special Report: The best states for business, July 31, 2008
Forbes, Special Report: The best state for business, Sept. 23, 2009
Forbes, The best states for business and careers, Oct. 13, 2010
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