Gov. Perry himself has said his administration merely created the environment for Texas' success. But even that is open to debate.
Texas has no personal income tax, but that was the case long before Perry took office. And the state constitution, amended in 1993, pretty much guarantees it will be the case long after he leaves.
For all Gov. Perry's talk about the Texas advantage, his state finishes roughly in the middle—23rd—for overall Cost of Doing Business this year. Despite his claims of a predictable legal system, the state finishes 20th for Business Friendliness. With one of the lowest per-pupil spending rates in the nation, Texas finishes 27th for Education. And Texas has the lowest percentage of residents with health insurance—one reason the state finishes 37th for Quality of Life.
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In fact, Texas' greatest attributes have little to do with any governor. Just as it was before Perry took office, it is a big state with a diverse Texas-size economy, two of the nation's five largest metro areas and a highly developed infrastructure. Little wonder it finishes first in our Economy and Infrastructure categories.
But give Gov. Perry credit for knowing better than to stand in the way, one reason Texas finishes second for Technology & Innovation and fifth for Access to Capital. He is also a smart enough politician to take the state's success and run with it.
The nation's longest-serving governor leaves office with an enviable Top States record of three first-place finishes and five second-place finishes. If that is any guide, Gov. Rick Perry will be a tough act to follow.
—By CNBC's Scott Cohn