Remember Rick Perry, the Texas governor who ran ads on Chicago radio promoting his state’s business climate, and inviting Illinois CEOs to move down South “before it’s too late?” Who visited Chicago during a biotechnology conference, as part of his campaign to lure companies from Illinois to Texas?
It so happened that job-stealing visit took place less than a week after a fertilizer depot exploded in West, Texas, killing 14 people and creating a tremor that measured 2.1 on the Richter scale. Perry, who was touting his state’s low unionization rate and low workers’ comp fees, denied that better safety regulations would have prevented the disaster.
“Through their elected officials,” he said, Texans “clearly send the message of their comfort with the amount of oversight.”
The New York Times has an article today specifically comparing Texas with Illinois -- and concluding that our regulations make this a much safer place to do business.
Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade. Fires and explosions at Texas’ more than 1,300 chemical and industrial plants have cost as much in property damage as those in all the other states combined for the five years ending in May 2012. Compared with Illinois, which has the nation’s second-largest number of high-risk sites, more than 950, but tighter fire and safety rules, Texas had more than three times the number of accidents, four times the number of injuries and deaths, and 300 times the property damage costs.
The article also quotes a magazine editor who says, “Businesses can come down here and do pretty much what they want to do. That’s the Texas way.”
Which is all well and good, until someone gets blown to smithereens. Texas was the site of the deadliest industrial accident in American history -- a ship explosion that killed 600 people in Texas City. Thankfully, that’s not the Illinois way.