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Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry challenged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to a friendly debate over economic policies. Perry issued the challenge during a trip to the Empire state in which he was to meet business owners, trying to convince them to move their operations to Texas. Cuomo, when given a chance to defend against Perry's statements that business men and women in New York are "taxed too much" and that "the regulatory climate is too onerous," declined. Cuomo simply stated, "I don't think so."
But it doesn't take sparring in the media, or national debates to tell the story. Actions define Texas as the clear cut leader in economic policies, making them the true Empire State for business.
During the back and forth between two possible presidential candidates in 2016, Cuomo has seemingly only one strong counterpoint in the business economic debate - a $100 million program called Start-Up NY, an initiative designed to allow businesses that locate in close proximity to state college campuses to be rewarded with 10 years of tax free operations.
New York Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin claims that the initiative was originally named the "tax free zone" act, but was renamed because "people saw it for what it is - a scam that will do virtually nothing to help NY."
McLaughlin also claims that Cuomo has been shelling out $140 million in taxpayer money promoting the Start-Up NY program, along with advertisements trying to convince job creators that New York is "Open for Business" to no avail. "Zero companies have signed on for this so far," he posted.
During a previous debate McLaughlin added, "Picking winners and losers through centralized planning has never, and will never work."
Yet this is the big economic idea that Governor Cuomo has used in trying to lure businesses to his state. A state which ranks dead last for economic freedoms, last for business and business friendliness, and is one of the top 5 states people are fleeing.
It isn't simply New York's failures that make this debate so one-sided. It's Texas' accomplishments as well.
According to the Washington Post, "Texas experienced stronger job growth than the rest of the nation from 2000 to 2013" while simultaneously "lead(ing) the nation in creation of jobs at all pay levels."
An in-depth report by Crain's also shows disparity in the tale of the tape:
While the oil and gas boom has seen the Texas state population increase by over 20% since the turn of the century, New York's non-commital response to hydrofracking has contributed to businesses and residents leaving the state. Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino recently ripped Cuomo for his inability to make a decision on hydrofracking, saying it “took less time for Tolstoy to write ‘War and Peace’” than it has taken the administration to study the economic and environmental benefits of fracking.
77% of New York residents believe they pay too much in taxes. Only 39% of Texans believe the same.
Despite the perceived tax benefits that Start-Up NY would provide to newly located businesses, Texas provides $19.1 billion in tax breaks to corporations, while New York businesses get about $1.8 billion.
Recovery from the recession has been much more swift in the Lone Star State. Since 2009, Texas has seen an increase in employment by about 10.5%. During that same time, New York saw a slight decrease, by 0.2%.
Even more recently, and perhaps more effective than analyzing numbers over years past, Texas has delivered a knockout blow with the latest business related announcement - Toyota, the world's largest automaker, has announced they will be moving their headquarters from California to Texas.
The Associated Press described the move as watching Toyota move from "the nation's leading blue state for its No. 1 red one."
"It's a walk-off home run for Perry," said Republican political strategist Mark McKinnon, a top adviser in the presidential campaigns of John McCain and George W. Bush. "His jobs and economy narrative is now complete and real."
Whether it is a walk-off home run, a TKO, or a straight-up knockout, Governor Perry and the state of Texas have facts, economic policies, and tangible business moves to lay claim to being the true Empire State in this debate. Perhaps one day Governor Cuomo will Start-Up an initiative that will imitate such success.