Progressive California Couple Flees from... Low Taxes?

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

California was arguably America’s greatest success story, right up until it wasn’t.

It might be difficult or impossible to pinpoint the exact moment that California’s long, slow decline began, but surely we can pick April 18, 2021, as the day it became undeniable to even the most fervent progressive or statist (but I repeat myself).

On Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle told the heartbreaking story of Alison Grady and Ernest Brown, a very pleasant-seeming mixed-race couple forced to flee California because…

…wait for it…

taxes aren’t high enough.

The couple recently moved to Atlanta, claiming the final straw “came last year when California voters rejected Proposition 15,” according to the Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli.

Prop 15 would have raised commercial property taxes for the purported benefit of schools and local governments.

“The decision to under-invest in the public infrastructure that is particularly important to families raising children in California makes (staying) such a hard bargain, Brown told the Chron.

Garofoli’s story was part of an ongoing series called “California Exit Interview.”

It says something that that’s an ongoing series because out of the thousands of people leaving California, there are probably just as many different good reasons to leave.

Topping the couple’s reasons for leaving was that the rent’s too damn high.

In Oakland, they were paying $1,500 a month to share a duplex with another couple. As Grady noted, “We’re 30, and it’s so silly to be living with housemates.”

California, particularly the San Francisco Bay Area where Grady and Brown fled, has some of the strictest zoning regulations for private housing in the country — particularly for multifamily apartment buildings the region so desperately needs.

David Norton reported as long ago as 2016 that

The housing crisis in Oakland is not entirely a problem of the tech boom in San Francisco; after all, more businesses and startups create more jobs and more commerce. The strict regulation of housing in the Bay Area is harming both transplants, who have to pay through the nose to find housing, and long-time residents, who suddenly face skyrocketing housing prices.

You might think that people in the local governments would be wary of enacting more regulations that restrict housing supply, but surprisingly, the opposite is true.

Prop 15 failed because voters seemed to recognize that gutting the old Prop 13 tax limits would be bad for business, and worse for homeowners and consumers — and likely would never have raised the promised billions each year.

In terms of spending, California ranked 17th worst in the nation for government spending per capita.

California ranks similarly in education dollars spent per student, coming in at number 20.

And revenue? Fuggedaboudit.

California ranks #8 in state and local taxes collected per person.

California doesn’t have a housing crisis because there isn’t enough revenue. Their schools and roads aren’t crumbling because there isn’t enough spending.

Californians pay sky-high rents to live in crowded conditions and send their kids to crappy schools on filthy streets because it’s a one-party state run for the benefit of the elected and the connected.

Everything Brown and Grady wanted (except for Prop 15, which would have exacerbated California’s troubles) is exactly what they voted for.

That they got it, good and hard until they fled, is now a problem Georgia is going to have to contend with.

But if they thought Oakland was bad, wait’ll they get a full load of life in Atlanta.


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