At 9.3 percent, California's state income tax is the country's second highest. At 7.25 percent sales tax, which counties can add on to, California ranks as the nation's highest state sales tax.
Libertarian think tank CATO rated the governor's performance an "F": "It is in the context of the current state fiscal crisis that we release the results of our sixth biennial fiscal report card on the governors," wrote Stephen Moore and Stephen Slivinski. "Governors that have cut taxes and spending the most receive the highest grades. Those that have raised taxes and spending the most get the worst grades. . . . F grades were assigned to the four most fiscally reckless governors: Don Sundquist of Tennessee, Gray Davis of California, Bob Taft of Ohio, and John Kitzhaber of Oregon."
The recall election, many say, reflects Californians' disgust with high taxes. Yet registered Democrats in California outrank Republicans 45 to 35 percent. In fact, Democrats have outnumbered GOP voters by a 10-point margin and a million-plus votes for two decades. Meanwhile, the spending increased.
Employers now leave the state in droves, taking jobs with them. Investor's Business Daily states, "The latest economic disaster, the soaring costs of the state's workers' compensation insurance, has been less visible on the public's outrage screen than some others, but it may prove to be the worst of all. Take the case of Mitchell Greif, who owns a Southern California factory that employs 150 workers and makes plastic bags. . . . (Greif's) required premiums for workers' compensation insurance have soared from $255,000 in 2001 to $570,000 this year. If he stays put, they'll hit $700,000. But he's not staying put. He's pulling up stakes and moving his whole operation to Las Vegas. Two-thirds of his workers have agreed to go with him, and a few are already there."
On education, according to Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute, the state spends annually, per pupil, nearly $9,200, which includes "all state expenditures, including lottery funding, federal dollars, and other local funds." For Medi-Cal (California's version of Medicare), the state spends over $2.5 billion annually, with experts saying that fraud accounts for nearly 10 percent.
All Republican gubernatorial "replacement" candidates promise, with varying degrees of certainty, to hold the line on taxes. Yet none of them, save State Senator Tom McClintock, called for a decrease in taxes, coupled with substantial cuts in spending.
California, if nothing else, shows what happens when voters put free-lunch Democrats in charge. Let the other 49 states beware.