Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Interesting Wall Street Journal editorial, Meathead Economics: Hollywood Liberals Drive Productive Californians to Leave the State:
It takes hard work to drive anyone away from California's sunshine and scenic vistas, but politicians in Sacramento have been up to the task.
The latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005, 239,416 more native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California is also on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090--or some eight times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.
What's gone wrong? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most productive businesses and workers as if they were ATMs. The cost to businesses of complying with California's rules, regulations and paperwork is more than twice as high as in other Western states.
But the worst growth killer may well be California's tax system. The business tax rate of 8.8% is the highest in the West, and its steeply "progressive" personal income tax has an effective top marginal rate of 10.3%, or second highest in the nation. CalTax, the state's taxpayer advocacy group, reports that the richest 10% of earners pay almost 75% of the entire income-tax revenue in the state, and most of these are small-business owners, i.e., the people who create jobs.
And things may soon get worse, thanks to Rob Reiner, who played the liberal "Meathead" on the "All in the Family" sitcom in the 1970s and now plays the same part in real life. He and his rich Hollywood friends have put an initiative on the state's June ballot that would add a 1.7-percentage-point income-tax surcharge on "millionaires" with income over $400,000, with the proceeds earmarked for universal pre-school.
The Bottom Ten: States with the Highest Marginal Income Tax Rates:
- New York: 12.15% (includes New York City)
- California: 12.0% (includes Reiner tax)
- Oregon: 10.25%
- Rhode Island: 9.9%
- Vermont: 9.5%
- Ohio: 9.2%
- New Jersey: 9.0%
- Iowa: 8.95%
- Maine: 8.5%
- Hawaii: 8.25%