Earlier this week, Arizona’s gubernatorial candidates talked about their plans for Arizona’s future if elected. On the topic of the economy, Texas and California were both discussed as models of success that Arizona should look to in creating our 21st century economy.
I’ve ruminated on Texas in previous columns, but today I want to talk about why emulating California would be economic malpractice. (Taking the Golden State to task isn’t new for me, so apologies if this seems like piling on, but the only the thing the Legislature there hasn’t screwed up is the weather. Only in California are you warned about possible toxins when you visit your local Starbucks.)
For the last 10 years, Chief Executive Magazine has published annual rankings of the best and worst states for business. In 2014, Arizona ranked seventh. A model of inept consistency, California has ranked dead last every year that Chief Executive Magazine has published these rankings.
California has among the highest individual income tax, corporate income tax and sales tax rates in the country. The American Legislative Exchange Council ranks California 47th for economic outlook; Arizona ranks seventh.
No wonder, then, that while Arizona has been one of the fastest growing states, gaining more than 230,000 new residents in the last three years, California’s population has been declining. Among those fleeing California are wealthy residents fed up with the extraordinary tax burden they face.
The Arizona Commerce Authority has offices in Santa Clara and Santa Monica telling Arizona’s story to companies fed up with California’s anti-business, anti-growth and anti-innovation agenda. We make a compelling case: Our tax, labor, legal and regulatory systems are all far more competitive and attractive to job creators.
And education? While some have pointed to California’s education system as a driver of economic success, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recent Leaders and Laggards report, gave California a grade of F. We’ve got room for improvement here, but let’s look at who’s getting an A for inspiration.
I want California to succeed. When the world’s 8th largest economy is humming on all cylinders, it’s good for everyone. But when a gubernatorial candidate in 2014 starts touting California’s economic model, watch your wallet.