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California vs. Texas: Wild West Shootout

Texas Governor Rick Perry has taken the fight for new jobs straight to California’s airwaves. The Lone Star governor is out with a 30-second advertisement on radio channels across California’s major media markets: “Building a business is tough,” says the governor in his Texas twang, “but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible.” Mr. Perry calls his attempts to poach California businesses “hunting trips.”

For his part, California Governor Jerry Brown shot back with a forceful, if odd, retort: “It’s not a serious story, guys. It’s not a burp. It’s barely a fart.”

But behind the posturing lies a riveting drama. Two of our biggest and richest states, polar opposites on the political spectrum, are taking radically different approaches to attracting new jobs. Policymakers in Washington and beyond will be watching closely to see who comes out on top.

As the match rolls on, a few things are clear. California still has the upper hand, with an economy larger than Canada’s or India’s and untapped energy reserves to rival Nigeria. But Texas has all the momentum. It places at or near the top in every ranking for business climate, whereas California consistently scrapes the bottom. It spends far less than California on education but ranks significantly higher. And California business leaders are growing more frustrated by the day, as Sacramento seems determined to squeeze them for ever more revenue.

This is the Ali vs. Frazier of interstate rivalries. It promises to be the fight of the decade.

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