Let’s start from the premise that California has way too many people anyway — 39.8 million at last count.
That’s twice New York state’s residents or 12 percent of the entire country’s population in two percent of the states.
There are good reasons for that — climate, geography, lifestyle, earthquakes. Plus the continent ends there.
But government and taxes are not among California’s attributes.
Because Californians vote by rote, Democrats rule the state politically. And because Democrats rule the state politically, the answer to immense budget deficits is not to cut spending. It’s to raise taxes.
And so back in 2012 at the urgent suggestion of Gov. Jerry Brown, who painted all kinds of dire consequences if his favorite measure failed, California’s rote voters approved Proposition 30.
It was the most popiular kind of huge tax increase because it was on somebody else, those somebody else’s who make a lot of money. California’s top three percent of earners were to shell out a major part of the $9 billion in private money that Brown gleefully estimated would sink into his state coffers.
Here are some things Prop. 30 pulled off: It raised California’s top income tax rate by almost 30 percent, up three percentage points to 13.3%. It also boosted taxes on income from $300,000 to $500,000 by two percentage points, and jacked the rate on income between $500,000 and $1,000,000 by three percentage points. That was a 32% jump.
What could go wrong, right? Hey, voters approved it. They were told the taxes would go up only temporarily. Now, you know what that means, of course.
It’s sold as a temporary increase until government gets accustomed to the extra money. So the expiration date is pushed back temporarily in another rote vote and then pushed back temporarily again. And so on.
Now, the tax increases won’t expire until the middle of Ivanka Trump’s second presidential term.
California’s Republicans should be on the Endangered Species List. They knew what would happen under the new taxes, the opposite of what happened after last winter’s Republican federal tax cuts started drawing money back home from overseas.
Now comes statistical proof. In Forbes, Patrick Gleason of Americans for Tax Reform delves into newly-updated research by Charles Varner of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.
Varner has determined that at least 138 really wealthy people have left the state. Now, that won’t change traffic conditions on the 405.
But it does remove more money from the Golden State than you or I can ever imagine counting. Not to mention the ideas and ingenuity and associated families and employees and their piles of money.
All of which helps bolster the high-end home markets in Nevada or wherever else these folks flutter down. A similar exodus of people and their wealth occurred 10 years ago in Maryland under Gov. Martin O’Malley.
One reason we wanted to update our previous paper is that this tax change in 2012 is the largest state tax change that we have seen in the U.S. for the last three decades.
As Gleason concludes: “Varner’s new research backs up the old adage that when you tax something, you get less of it. That applies whether the thing being taxed is cigarettes, booze or, in California’s case, millionaires.”