Let’s bring America to California (Opinion)

The increasing rate of people and businesses leaving California is well documented and is slowly being acknowledged by reluctant politicians and legacy media. Arguments from California’s cheerleader-in-chief, Governor Newsom, that everything is fine are growing less credible by the day.

For those of us who want to stay in the Golden State – no matter what your politics – this is a crisis as we watch our friends and family members leave for better opportunities elsewhere. In fact, the problem has evolved from one of outmigration to actual population loss. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total population in California declined by more than 500,000 between April 2020 and July 2022.

Setting aside other factors contributing to California’s population decline is the 871,127 decrease attributable to net domestic outmigration alone.

Even more troubling is the number of Californians who are just considering leaving. A recent survey by the LA Times and various nonprofit groups – not exactly right-wing media – 40% of Californians are considering bailing out. The driving force is lack of affordable housing, healthcare costs, and cost of living.

How many of us have spoken to our friends who have moved to any one of dozens other states who tell us, “It’s so much cheaper here.” Then they ask, “What is your exit plan?”

Most recent emigres include high taxes as a reason for leaving. For high-earning individuals, it is likely the main reason as California’s highest-in-the-nation 13.3% income tax rate exacts a huge cost. And if they move to one of the many states that has no income tax at all (Texas, Florida, Nevada, etc.) they enjoy an immediate 13.3% savings on their earnings.

The exodus of productive taxpayers should frighten our progressive political leaders but, regrettably, some still choose willful ignorance over somber analysis. They do so at their own peril because the demographic trends do not bode well for the financial health of California.

A chilling report from the California Center for Jobs and the Economy reveals the financial loss to the state from people leaving: “On balance, the net migration of high earners in 2021 had an average AGI (adjusted gross income) of $747,600, representing a loss of $20.4 billion in taxable income to the state. Using the tax year 2020 data from Franchise Tax Board (2021 is not yet available), this amount translates into an estimated $1.7 billion reduction in state personal income tax revenues, plus additional tax losses in property taxes, sales and use tax, fees and licenses, other revenues, and related business tax revenues that may have moved with these taxpayers. The estimated tax loss from all earners was $2.0 billion in 2021.”

While most pundits focus on the economic motivations for leaving there are other reasons as well. Parents of school-age children have grown increasingly angry at school lockdowns, poor management, and progressive indoctrination of their kids.

In June, Senator Scott Wilk stunned his fellow legislators and those attending in a hearing room at the Capitol when he said, “In the past when we’ve had these discussions and I’ve seen parental rights atrophy, I’ve encouraged people to keep fighting. I’ve changed my mind on that. If you love your children, you need to flee California. You need to flee.”

Wilk concluded with this comment. “It just breaks my heart. (I was) born and raised in this state. I love this state. I’m not going to stay in this state, because it’s just too oppressive. And I believe in freedom, and so, I’m going to move to America when I leave the Legislature.”

Senator Wilk already reached his breaking point. How close are other Californians to theirs?

For those of us who will remain and fight, there is an alternative to “moving to America.” It is to bring America to California by supporting those laws, policies and candidates who have some semblance of sanity.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

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