A bid by Texas to lure a Tesla battery factory brought that state's salesman-in-chief to the doorstep of California's state Capitol on Tuesday -- and to underscore the point, he arrived in one of the automaker's sleek, all-electric vehicles.
Before his scheduled meeting with Republican state lawmakers, Gov. Rick Perry cruised up to the Hyatt hotel across from the Capitol behind the wheel of a metallic gray Tesla Model S.
California and Texas are among a handful of states fighting for the planned battery plant, which will represent a $5 billion investment from the California-based car company and its partners.
Perry, a former and potential future GOP presidential candidate, says competition between states is a good thing and would help California's economic turnaround.
"There's a real cause and effect here: over-taxation, overregulation, over-litigation, the deterioration of the public schools to a degree they are not developing the workforce you are going to need," Perry told reporters. "Those things are relatively quickly turned around, but it's going to take competition. It's going to take pressure from other states."
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said last month that California was back in the running for the massive battery plant, but as an "improbable-but-not-impossible" choice because of a lengthy approval process that includes environmental reviews.
Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, have introduced a bill to expedite construction of the Tesla plant if the company chooses to expand in its home state. The details, such as removing regulatory hurdles or providing tax credits, are still being hashed out among legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown's administration.
"While they stage a partisan political pageant, we're cutting red tape for urban development, offering tax breaks for new manufacturing, and building our workforce and economy to meet future demands," Steinberg said in a statement responding to Perry's visit.
Tesla plans to break ground this summer and start production by 2017 to meet demands for a new line of lower-cost electrical vehicles. Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada also are under consideration.