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Kai Ryssdal: Thanks to the snow it’s going to be another couple of weeks before Congress hears directly from Toyota executives. Hearings scheduled this week had to be pushed back. But lawmakers are getting an earful from some state governors.
Marketplace’s Alisa Roth explains now why Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana and Kentucky are sticking up for the car company.
ALISA ROTH: It’s not that these governors think Toyota should get a free pass.
MITCH DANIELS: The company must quickly correct the problem, they may well need to be fined or pay some appropriate penalty. Nobody’s quarreling with that.
That’s Mitch Daniels of Indiana. He and his fellow governors just want to make sure Toyota gets a fair chance. They’re worried that Congress is biased, because the government owns GM and Chrysler. And yes, there is an element of self-interest here, too.
DANIELS: No apologies for looking out for thousands of employees in our state and the company which has employed them.
It isn’t unusual for governors to stick up for big employers in their states.
Greg LeRoy directs Good Jobs First. It’s an organization that promotes accountability in economic development. He says the only thing unusual here is that Toyota is a foreign company.
GREG LEROY: There is an element of them establishing a track record here of standing up for an employer, even a foreign-based employer, saying we’ll stand by you even if you have a rough spot.
He says money is so scarce these days, governors are always looking for more investment in their states and which country the money comes from matters less and less.
Governor Daniels says he’s sticking by the Japanese. And in case you think he’s all talk…
ROTH: Do you drive a Toyota?
DANIELS: I ride in one. The official state vehicle is a Toyota, built in Princeton, Ind.
The official state vehicle in Kentucky is a Ford. But Steve Beshear, the governor, was quick to tell me his wife drives a Toyota 4Runner. Her second.
I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.
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