This AP article lists several indicators that have been emerging that California’s irresponsible behavior is driving people away:

Mike Reilly spent his lifetime chasing the California dream. This year he’s going to look for it in Colorado. With a house purchase near Denver in the works, the 38-year-old engineering contractor plans to move his family 1,200 miles away from his home state’s lemon groves, sunshine and beaches. For him, years of rising taxes, dead-end schools, unchecked illegal immigration and clogged traffic have robbed the Golden State of its allure.

Is there something left of the California dream?

“If you are a Hollywood actor,” Reilly says, “but not for us.”

Since the days of the Gold Rush, California has represented the Promised Land, an image celebrated in the songs of the Beach Boys and embodied by Silicon Valley’s instant millionaires and the young men and women who achieve stardom in Hollywood.

But for many California families last year, tomorrow started somewhere else.

The number of people leaving California for another state outstripped the number moving in from another state during the year ending on July 1, 2008. California lost a net total of 144,000 people during that period, more than any other state, according to census estimates. That is about equal to the population of Syracuse, N.Y.

Why should people stay when California’s government has been so utterly irresponsible? Taxes keep rising. California’s deficits aren’t eliminated. They aren’t even reduced. Gov. Ahnold and the legislature can’t find a way to stop spending money they don’t have. The last governor that acted in anything resembling a fiscally responsible way was Pete Wilson.

In short, the supposedly enlightened people of California can’t figure out a way to balance a budget because their enlightened priorities are making matters worse with no end in sight. Fiscal restraint is now extinct in most parts of California. At minimum, it’s on the endangered species list.

If they don’t start acting with fiscal restraint, California will become the Michigan of the Left Coast.

Why are so many looking for an exit?

Among other things: California’s unemployment rate hit 8.4 percent in November, the third-highest in the nation, and it is expected to get worse. A record 236,000 foreclosures are projected for 2008, more than the prior nine years combined, according to research firm MDA DataQuick. Personal income was about flat last year.
With state government facing a $41.6 billion budget hole over 18 months, residents are bracing for higher taxes, cuts in education and postponed tax rebates. A multibillion-dollar plan to remake downtown Los Angeles has stalled, and office vacancy rates there and in San Diego and San Jose surpass the 10.2 percent national average.

California doesn’t really have much of a choice in raising taxes at this point. Raising taxes alone won’t solve California’s problems, either. California’s appetite for irresponsible spending must end. That won’t happen with spend-happy Ahnold. That won’t happen with this spend-happy legislature, either.

The only thing that will pull California out of their financial trainwreck is fiscal restraint, limited government, intelligent priorities and leadership that says, metaphorically speaking, the children can’t have dessert until they’ve finished their homework and eaten their vegetables.

I haven’t seen proof that any of California’s politicians are capable of or interested in providing that type of leadership. Without leadership and without restraint, California will be stuck in this hole for the forseeable future.

If ever there was a time when California needed adult management, it’s now. Let’s hope that leadership arrives soon. It can’t afford this pattern much longer.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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