Tough Times Bring Brazen Sales Pitches

By: - October 28, 2010 12:00 am

A tax increase for one governor often seems like a golden opportunity for another. Just ask Chris Gregoire.

Gregoire, the Democratic governor of Washington, already has had to fend off Idaho’s C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican who wrote a ” love letter ” earlier this year to businesses in Oregon and Washington, urging them to move to Idaho instead. His rationale? Oregon and Washington both have raised taxes this year, making them unfriendly to investors who rely on stability in state tax codes.

Now, Gregoire is hearing it again from another GOP governor — one who lives more than 2,000 miles away. Texas Governor Rick Perry sent a letter to 90 Washington businesses on Friday (October 22), urging them to relocate to Texas if Washington voters approve a personal income tax on Election Day. Both states now have no personal income tax, but Texas, Perry wrote , has “no interest in getting one.”

“If Washington doesn’t want your business,” Perry wrote to the companies, including Microsoft and Starbucks, “Texas does.”

The ballot question at issue, Initiative 1098, has sharply divided some of the state’s leading business figures. Microsoft founder Bill Gates Jr. and his father, Bill Gates Sr., a prominent Seattle attorney, both support the measure as a way to raise revenue, while Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos oppose it, saying it will discourage business.

Gregoire, who has spent much of her second term cutting the budget because of poor revenues, backs the measure. But she appears to have learned a lesson, aggressively pushing back after Perry sent his letter. “Mr. Perry from Texas, don’t mess with Washington,” she warned Tuesday (October 26), according to the Puget Sound Business Journal .

“You want to compare Forbes rankings? Fine,” she said, referring to a prominent national ranking of state business climates . “We are in the Top 5. You ain’t.”


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