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Emanuel takes shot at Texas gov’s attempt to lure Illinois businesses

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks medioutside St. Pius Church 1919 S. Ashland. Sunday January 6 2013 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaks to the media outside of St. Pius Church 1919 S. Ashland. Sunday, January 6, 2013 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 24, 2013 6:20AM

With trademark sarcasm, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took a shot at Texas Gov. Rick Perry Monday for attempting to poach Illinois businesses and urging them to “get out while there’s still time.”

Perry crashed and burned during last year’s Republican presidential sweepstakes, in part because he seemed ill-prepared on the campaign trail; in one debate he was unable to recall the third federal department he’d eliminate, if elected president.

That embarrassing fact was not lost on Emanuel, who loves to have a good laugh at the expense of just about everybody but himself.

“Let me say this to Gov. Perry: I hope when he comes he remembers all three of his reasons…because it will be a real test for him,” Emanuel said to delayed laughter at an unrelated news conference at the Fernwood Park fieldhouse 10436 S. Wallace.

“While he’s here, he can see an incredible modern infrastructure investment — the most up-to-date infrastructure investment in America — so we can move goods and services through our airports, our trains and our roads and also move people quickly and efficiently on our mass transit system, which they don’t have in Texas.”

Emanuel noted, in the two years since he took office, fourteen companies have decided to locate their corporate headquarters in Chicago. In other words, the mayor takes Perry’s efforts to steal businesses out from under his nose as a personal affront.

“People are not only coming to visit. They’re coming to stay. . . .The reason companies are moving to the city of Chicago is because we have the most modern infrastructure, the most modern universities. We have a college-educated, trained workforce at 35 percent. And the national average is 27 percent. And they don’t have that in Texas,” the mayor said.

“And third, they’re experiencing a unique, unbelievable drought [in Texas]. Here in Chicago, we don’t have to measure our showers like they do in Texas.”

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford, a Republican like Perry, also weighed in, saying “I don’t find it too inviting that another executive from a another state comes here in the tone that he’s doing it.”

Rutherford also said that Springfield should work harder to solve the state’s pension crisis and ensure that the state’s income tax is allowed to partially expire as scheduled in 2015. However Rutherford declined to offer specifics as to how this might be accomplished.

Last week, Perry became the latest in a parade of Republican governors who have used Illinois’ massive pension debt, the state’s mountain of unpaid bills and its worst-in-the-nation credit rating as a platform for poaching.

The Texas governor is featured in commercials now running on Chicago radio stations urging Illinois businesses to “get out while there’s still time.” Illinois businesses are advised that their “escape route leads straight to Texas.”

Perry also wrote a letter to Illinois businesses touting his state’s tax advantages. Texas is a right-to-work state with fewer union members, a less costly worker’s compensation program and no personal state income tax.

On Monday, Perry was in Chicago to speak at the 2013 BIO International convention and to meet directly with business leaders.

Since taking office on May 16, 2011, Emanuel has cut hundreds of government jobs while being relentless in his pursuit of private sector jobs.

The mayor has also moved to improve Chicago’s business climate - by cutting the $4-a-month employee head tax in half, consolidating business licenses and taking steps to streamline city inspections.

It’s not the first time Texas has come here to court Illinois businesses. Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey all did the same two years ago after the Il. General Assembly raised the state’s income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Contributing: Art Golab

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