California: The Golden State has some big problems. Its taxes keep soaring, home prices are stratospheric, regulations are proliferating, and the quality of life continues to diminish. Now add what might be its most serious problem: People are leaving the state by the thousands.
Don't worry. California won't empty out anytime soon. It has nearly 40 million people. Yet, Census data point to a serious issue: Many of those who helped create California's golden lifestyle can no longer afford to live there and are departing the state.
The temptation, of course, is to simply say, "good riddance." But it's a sign that the state has serious problems, as a recent CNBC report showed.
"Rents here are crazy, if you can find a place, and they're going to tax us to death," said Dave Senser, who is moving to Las Vegas, where there is no state income tax.
He's not alone. Indeed.com Chief Economist Jed Kolko notes that Census Bureau data from July 2016 to July 2017 show that California had a net loss of 138,000 people. Where did they go? Here's a hint: Texas had a net population gain of 79,000, Arizona 63,000, and Nevada more than 38,000.
California, one of the most beautiful states in the union, is a fiscal and economic mess. Its rigid regulations make it absurdly difficult to build housing, so prices have soared for both apartments and homes. Want a two-bedroom apartment? In Los Angeles, it will set you back $2,249 a month; in San Francisco it's nearly $3,400 a month.
The same sized apartment in Las Vegas costs $1,122 a month; in Phoenx, it's $1,137.
It isn't just housing. A 40% hike in the gasoline tax has hit low-income Californians hard. Income tax rates have also been ratcheted up in recent years. And regulations make it harder and harder to start a business in California. So lower-income, struggling families are being forced out of the state.
"When It Comes To Paying Taxes, California Is Bernie Sanders' Kind Of State," said a 2016 L.A. Times headline. It wasn't kidding. About 155,000 taxpayers out of 15.7 million pay half of all the state's income taxes. With the steeply progressive tax code hitting even middle-income people, it won't be long before there's an exodus of well-to-do residents, too.
There's no relief in sight. California's white elephant "high-speed rail," Gov. Jerry Brown's pet project, will cost more than $100 billion to build but carry at best a couple thousand people a day. Meanwhile, the state's one-party rule ensures that insane ideas like a $400 billion a year single-payer health care system continue to be seriously discussed, even though as any first-year accounting student would tell you it will bankrupt the state.
People will continue to leave the state because it's over-taxed, over-regulated and over-managed by the worst political class in America. And voters will have no one to blame but themselves when it all falls apart.