Despite outcry from political officials here, Texas Gov. Rick Perry says his trip to Illinois to personally encourage businesses to relocate is a healthy thing for the state.
"I believe in competition across the board," Perry told the Daily Herald Monday. "If you are not pushed out of your comfort zone you will not get better. The majority of people in Illinois want their government to be more competitive."
But Perry's visit Monday and today -- which includes meetings with companies and a speech at the 2013 BIO International Convention in Chicago -- isn't aimed at helping Illinois. It comes days after the onset of an $80,000 ad campaign to lure Illinois companies to Texas, urging them to "get out while there's still time."
The BIO event draws business people from around the world, and the Texas Republican will talk at an afternoon session about his state's legislative practices that support bioscience economic development.
Perry, who wouldn't comment on which businesses he would be meeting with, described his efforts as "not doing anything extraordinary."
"I know (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels) often had the welcome mat out for Illinois businesses to come," Perry said.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has said the Land of Lincoln doesn't need advice from Perry and he defends the state's business climate, even with financial problems that include the highest pension debt of any state nationwide. Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady of St. Charles called Perry's move counterproductive as party members work to take the governor's mansion in Springfield in 2014.
Treasurer Dan Rutherford, a Chenoa Republican strongly considering making a gubernatorial bid, said he doesn't believe Perry is undermining Republican efforts in Illinois, but called for the Illinois General Assembly to "take heed" and reform the state's tax structure.
Still, he said, "I don't find it too inviting that another executive from another state comes here and the tone he's doing it."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Perry by challenging the Texas governor to remember the reasons for his visit to Illinois -- a shot at Perry's forgetfulness in a 2011 presidential primary debate.
"I hope when he comes he remembers all three of his reasons," Emanuel said. "Because it will be a real test for him."
• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.