Perry to pitch Texas in the ‘Fee State’

Talking up low taxes to lure businesses

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he will visit Maryland next week after his recent television and radio ads that label the Free State the “fee state” and urge businesses to move south for lower taxes.

Mr. Perry said in a statement that he was scheduled to travel to Maryland on Wednesday “to highlight Texas’ commitment to keeping taxes low.”

A spokeswoman from Mr. Perry’s Austin office declined to give details on where he would be visiting on his tour.

A 30-second television ad and one-minute radio spot also began airing Thursday, criticizing Maryland taxes and encouraging business owners to “think Texas, where we’ve created more jobs than all the other states combined.”

The $500,000 in ads, as well as the upcoming trip are being paid for by TexasOne, a public-private partnership that markets Texas as a business-friendly state.

Maryland isn’t the first state the Texas group has targeted. Nor is it the first time Mr. Perry has dropped in on states where his advertisements are running. The Texas governor has also gone to California, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Illinois and most recently Missouri.

He also attempted to court gun manufacturer Beretta — which has a service factory in Accokeek, Md. — to his state after sweeping gun control laws promoted by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley were passed this spring.

Mr. O'Malley’s office called the ads “PR stunts” and highlighted the state’s public school system and top spot on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s list of states for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Governor Perry should come to Maryland to see firsthand the better choices that have led to these better results,” the statement read.

Mr. O'Malley’s office did not comment on either Mr. Perry’s decision to visit Maryland or any plans to receive the Texas governor.

Mr. O'Malley has, however, scheduled a trip to Texas next month to gin up support for Democratic candidates and deliver the keynote address at the state party’s major fundraiser.

Todd Eberly, coordinator of public policy studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said he wasn’t surprised that Mr. Perry had set his sights on Maryland.

Martin O'Malley has positioned himself as a spokesperson for the Democratic Party,” Mr. Eberly said. “He’s perfectly happy to look at Republican states and say, ‘This is where you’re bad and Maryland is doing great.’ Rick Perry is taking a swipe back and saying, ‘Down here in Texas, there’s all sorts of job growth.’ “

Mr. Eberly pointed to Mr. O'Malley’s trip to Wisconsin at the beginning of the summer, where he used his position as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association to stump for Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, during last year’s gubernatorial race against incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Martin O'Malley is perfectly happy to criticize Republican management and Republican states,” Mr. Eberly said. “He’s involved himself in other states’ politics.”

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