The fact is Texas led the nation in net population growth for the past decade, while New York and California led the nation in net population loss. Interestingly, the most new Texans (over 550,000) came from one state- California. They brought with them a remarkable $14.3 billion in income, but even that paled to the almost $1 trillion in assets and income that re-located New Yorkers brought to the Lone Star State.
From 2000 to 2010 a staggering 3.4 million people moved out of New York resulting in a net loss of 1.3 million residents. California was a close second with a net population loss of 1.2 million during the same decade.
So why is everyone running for their lives from New York and California? And why are so many of them heading to Texas? The answer is taxes, regulations, and quality of life. Americans have figured out that high taxes and excessive regulations kill jobs and quality of life. People simply want to have more opportunity for success and keep more of the money they work so hard to earn.
It’s no coincidence that New York has ranked first or second in the nation for tax burden every year since 1977. That includes state income taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes. There is also gas tax of a whopping 49 cents per gallon, and the highest estate and gift taxes in the nation. After grabbing more of your money than any state while you’re alive, New York also steals more of your money after you’re dead. I should know- I left New York 25 years ago and never looked back.
California now ranks first (ie worst) for highest state income tax. Add to that the mantle of worst state in the nation for excessive rules and regulations. It’s no wonder the Milken Institute ranks California as having the worst business environment in the nation. I should know- I left California too.
Lest you think this is some kind of fluke, or that taxes are not the determining factor in this “escape from NY and California,” it isn’t just Texas that is gaining all these fleeing residents. The U.S. Census reported that all of the top 15 states for population growth during the past decade are no tax or low tax states like Nevada, Florida, Arizona, Utah, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It seems Americans are smarter than politicians give them credit for- they are voting with their feet for lower taxes, pro business attitude, and more economic freedom.
Because no state in the union has a better economy, let’s look "up close and personal" at the Texas miracle. Texas practices what I proudly call “Wild West Cowboy Capitalism.” And it works!
Texas has zero state income tax, zero capital gains taxes, and zero death taxes. It is a “right to work” state where employees may choose to join a union, but are never forced to. It is pro business and anti-lawyer (discouraging class action lawsuits and the first state to pass a “Loser Pays” law). Texas is also tight-fisted with welfare and entitlement benefits- unlike New York and California. The result of this limited government attitude is people with high incomes, assets, and ambition are moving into Texas, while those who lack work ethic, and feel entitled to handouts are moving out. Good riddance.
But the most important attribute of Texas is that its constitution limits the time that politicians can meet. The Texas Legislature is limited to meeting only 4 months every other year. That pretty much explains everything. Texas and my state of Nevada have no state income taxes and the fastest growing populations in America…not in spite of, but because the politicians aren't allowed to sit in their seats all year long thinking of new ways to re-distribute income, impede business, and destroy jobs.
Let’s look at the remarkable results of favoring hard working job-creators over entitlement addicts, and business owners over lawyers. Texas now has more Fortune 500 headquarters than New York. It tied for the highest state economic growth in America over the past 50 years, while displacing New York as the second largest state economy. The annual Texas economy has passed $1 trillion, accounting for 8.3% of the entire U.S. economy. In the last three years one third of all jobs in America were created in Texas, and in the past decade, more jobs were created in Texas than in the other 49 states COMBINED.
One smart businessman, Andrew Puzder, sums it up. Mr. Puzder, CEO of California-based CKE Restaurants with over 3000 restaurants including Carl’s Jr. and Hardees was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal. He calls his home state of California “the most business-unfriendly state…” Opening one of his restaurants in California takes 2 years and costs $200,000 more than opening one in Texas, where it takes only 6 weeks. Is it a surprise that CKE has stopped opening new restaurants in California, but plans to open 300 in Texas?
So there you have it. Now you know why everyone’s ex’s live in Texas (or soon will), and why businesses, as well as people, choose states that treat them better, give them more freedom, and allow them to keep more of their own money. Imagine that? The results of smaller government, restrained politicians and lower taxes is dramatically increased wealth, happier citizens with a higher quality of life, and far higher job creation.
PS. My Texas friends want everyone to know, “Come on down, ya’ll are welcome. Just leave your liberal politics at home.”