California roaring back?
For months now, Governor Gavin Newsom has been proudly proclaiming California — thanks to his leadership — is “roaring back.”
Unfortunately, a look at the data shows California’s comeback resembles more of a meow than a roar.
In a new article published this week, California Policy Center’s Brandon Ristoff finds that California’s return to pre-COVID normalcy lags four months behind the nation. When accounting for things like frequency of dining out, the number of workers returning to the office, and resumption of family vacations, California remains mired in pandemic lifestyle. Worse, the state’s lag doesn’t appear to be tied to the severity of COVID infections or hospitalizations. Between May and July, California saw its lowest case rates since March 2020, yet unlike other states, California did not utilize that time to resume normal activities, instead continuing to behave as though infections were raging on.
Combined with the state’s high unemployment rate (which is second-to-worst in the country) and slow job growth, one must wonder if the Golden State will ever recover. That question is surely fueling the continued California Exodus, which leads more and more former residents eastward.
While Gavin Newsom tries to stop the bleed by telling reporters we’ve got a better tax climate than Texas (yes, really. In case you missed it, you can watch his factually inaccurate rant here), the numbers don’t lie. As CPC’s Lance Christensen and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chuck DeVore explain in this Fox News commentary, the California Dream is becoming harder to attain thanks to the governor’s policies.
On top of the dismal economic recovery data, California boasts the nation’s highest marginal income tax rate and is home to hidden taxes like high vehicle licensing fees. Californians pay nearly 40% more for goods here than the national average, and the state has the nation’s second-lowest home ownership rate, in no small part because homes cost nearly twice the national average. In each of these areas, Texans pay less.
Fortunately, there’s much California leaders — be they those currently in office or ones elected in the days and years to come — could do to reverse the state’s dismal course. Of course, reining in spending is an obvious first step and would make California a more affordable place to live, but there are other common sense reforms that Newsom (or his predecessor) and his colleagues in the statehouse could pursue to ensure California thrives for decades to come, some of which Christensen lays out in this California Globe op-ed.
Whether Californians wake up Wednesday with a new, more fiscally prudent governor, or continue the course with Newsom for another year, the grassroots momentum demanding leaders fix California has never been greater, and the need for citizen engagement continues well beyond September 14.