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Little state could have done to keep Toyota

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POSTED May 2, 2014 8:36 p.m.

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that it appears there was little California could have done to keep Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, from moving its U.S. headquarters and about 3,000 jobs to Texas.

“Change is inevitable,” he told reporters after addressing the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Brown cited comments from senior Toyota officials who said the decision to consolidate operations in Plano, a suburb of Dallas, was based partly on its proximity to company manufacturing plants in Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Indiana. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the state offered Toyota $40 million in incentives, and the mayor of Plano said the city aggressively courted Toyota.

“So, you know, this is a company decision, whether — why and how — I think they explained it,” Brown said. “But now, if you don’t want to believe them, they gave their reasons — and their reasons were consolidation.”

Republicans have said Toyota’s move is another sign of California’s inhospitable business climate and failure to aggressively court companies, even as Texas and New York target California businesses with what they say are more favorable tax and regulatory environments.

The two leading Republicans who are campaigning for governor in hopes of challenging Brown in November criticized him for failing to enact policies that retain major companies such as Toyota.

Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official, called Brown’s comments “unbelievable. It’s so dismissive, and it’s disrespectful to the millions of Californians who are looking for jobs.”

“That’s the next question: Why aren’t we manufacturing Toyota vehicles in California? It’s this benign resignation that the destruction of the middle-class is inevitable and there’s no role for the governor to play in turning it around,” Kashkari said Friday.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, said earlier this week that California is “watching job after job after job leave without a fight.”

Brown pointed Friday to other signs that he said indicate a robust economy and strong investment in California.

“We’re getting 60 percent of the venture capital. We’re the number one place for direct foreign investment in the United States. Do we have everything in all respects? No. But we have an abundance that constitutes a $2 trillion economy,” he said. “Is that any reason for complacency? No. That’s why we have GO-Biz, that’s why the legislature meets every year. And I’m certainly always on the look-out for things that can improve California.”

Palo Alto, California-based electric car-maker Tesla Motors Inc. recently announced it is considering four states as sites for two new battery-making facilities: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada.

Toyota will maintain about 2,300 jobs in California after the company settles into its new corporate campus in late 2016 or early 2017.

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