Television and radio audiences in Maryland have been bombarded in the past couple of weeks with ads featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) telling them how terrible their state is and encouraging them to relocate their businesses to his. But while his office boasts that “no state tax dollars” are going to the $500,000 ad buy and his associated travel to the Free State — and similar campaigns in other states with Democratic governors — Texas taxpayers are fronting much of the costs through their taxes.
Perry, who was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, announced in July that instead of seeking another term as governor, he will “pray, reflect and work to determine [his] own future path.” He has indicated that that path could include another campaign in 2016.
This new series of ads promote Texas — and Perry. In the Maryland spots, Perry looks directly into the camera and instructs, “When you grow tired of Maryland taxes squeezing every dime out of your business, think Texas.” The spots are also running in the influential DC media market, where they are bound to reach key political leaders in Washington.
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In recent months he has used similar ad campaigns in California, Illinois, New York, Missouri, to elsewhere criticizing the “short-sighted approach to business” of those states and their Democratic governors — and boast of the “limited government, low taxes, [and] pro-business environment” of the Lone Star State.
In each state, the “Texas: Wide Open For Business” ads are paid for by TexasOne, a public-private partnership that markets the state nationally and abroad. While TexasOne was launched by Perry in 2003, his spokeswoman told ThinkProgress that it receives no money from the state government. “The state does not pay for any of [the campaign’s costs] – travel, ad buy, or the ad production,” she explained. The money for TexasOne and the ads come from a mixture of private funding and local governments.
A ThinkProgress review of the current members of TexasOne reveals annual funding of more than $465,000 from local governments and sales-tax-funded local economic development councils. These include direct payments from the Cities of Sugarland ($25,000), Cedar Park ($5,000) and Haslet ($5,000). They also include $50,000 from the Brownsville Economic Development Council and $25,000 contributions from the economic development councils for Allen, Amarillo, Greater Conroe, Greater San Marcos, DeSoto, Frisco, Lubbock, McKinney, Midland, Pflungerville, and Schertz — each of which is funded by a local sales tax or other public money.
The ads, which look and sound like campaign ads, allow him to highlight the state’s pro-corporate policies, while making no mention of the state’s high child poverty rate, high greenhouse gas emissions, and high percentage of residents without any health insurance.