By Kevin Kelley
April 28 was a good day for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He spoke before a friendly conservative audience in Westlake. And Toyota Motor Corp. announced it will consolidate its offices in northern Kentucky and the Los Angeles area to a new U.S. headquarters in the Dallas suburb of Plano.
The Japanese automaker received a reported $40 million in incentives from Texas to make the move, which will bring 4,000 jobs to the Lone Star State.
The Republican governor said the Toyota move was the culmination of an effort, led by a Republican-controlled state government, to simplify its economic development program and make Texas more attractive to businesses.
Perry said the formula is simple.
“You have to have a tax burden that is as light as it can be … a regulatory climate that is fair yet predictable, and a legal system that doesn’t allow for oversuing, and accountable public schools,” Perry said.
Perry’s appearance at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility was sponsored by radio station WHK. Michael Medved, one of the conservative talk show hosts carried by the station, interviewed the Texas governor before about 400 attendees. The event was free, although some attendees paid $99 for admission to a VIP dinner before the public event.
Perry said he believed America’s future will be determined not in Washington, D.C., but rather in the state capitals. Perry described his vision of America not as one where Washington politicians set the agenda but one where governors and state legislatures are empowered to improve the economy. He said he sees the nation consisting of “50 labs of innovation” competing for investment.
“I believe that governors and legislators are substantially more expert at what the people of their states need, can deliver those health care decisions, can deliver education policies better than Washington, D.C., can,” Perry said.
The Texas governor agreed with Medved in that the Republican Party cannot win the presidency without more support from people of color. GOP leaders’ talk during the 2012 presidential election of “self-deportation” by illegal immigrants turned off many Hispanic voters, Perry said. Still, he said, the federal government must secure its borders.
Perry, who decided against seeking a fourth term as Texas governor, will leave office in January. Although he said he didn’t know if he will seek the presidency in 2016, he didn’t give any indication he would not run.
Perry said he has no plans to retire once his term ends.
“Partly because I care about where this country is going,” Perry said. “I’ve invested a lot of my life in putting policies into place that make a difference in this country.”
Perry said he plans to spend his post-governor days in preparation for a run.
Proper preparation for a presidential run is important, Perry said. He suggested having back surgery six weeks before launching his 2012 campaign hindered his success.
The Republican Party ought to limit the number of candidate debates during the primary season, Perry said. He added that the frequency of the debates added a reality TV feel to the campaign. Perry committed one of the best-known gaffes of the debate season in November 2011, when he failed to recall the third cabinet-level department he would seek to disband if elected.
Asked during the question and answer ceremony on how to reduce the national debt, Perry replied, “The first thing is you don’t spend all the money.”
Although Perry described himself as a great supporter of the military, he said some thoughtful reductions in spending could be made by the Pentagon. He also said some federal land could be sold to the private sector.
Perry said he is against the legalization of marijuana, adding that the actions taken by the states of Colorado and Washington are sending the wrong message to young people. More harmful health effects from marijuana use will likely be discovered following those two states’ actions, Perry speculated.