I have lived in California for 52 years, save a few when the Army stationed me elsewhere.
I could fill pages and pages with lists of things I love about California, including the incredible natural beauty up and down the state, cool history, awesome ethnic enclaves of every type, fun cities and peaceful mountains.
But, on July 1, I am moving out of California, with regrets but without second thoughts. This state is simply no longer a desirable place to live for my family.
Part of the problem is that the state government has run amok. It’s high spending has meant ever-increasing taxes and stringent regulations that lead to higher prices on everything from food to gasoline. And I am tired of how state government is negatively impacting my life and my family.
Let’s start with the cost of university for my oldest daughter, who will start college in a year. California has some world-class universities, but they are also expensive.
Despite significant increases in state spending on higher education, the total cost to send my oldest daughter to a University in California is much, much higher than it is in, say, Texas, Virginia, and Florida, for example. I’m a UC Irvine grad, but the basic tuition and fees to go to UC Irvine ($14,667 for 2014-15) now more than double the tuition and fees at the University of Florida ($6,310).
Then there are the taxes. California has the fourth-highest state and local tax burden in nation according to the Tax Foundation. Yet, my fellow citizens blithely approved 23 of 30 local government tax increases across the state in the June 4 elections. At the same time, they approved 42 of 55 proposed ballot initiatives to raise local government or school debt even though California has the highest total state and local government debt in the nation according to State Budget Solutions.
Maybe that’s because they don’t have to see parts of the state government that my job takes me to. I have attended countless state legislative hearings in Sacramento. I have also been to numerous legislative hearings in other states. Nothing beats the amateurish politicking, arrogant legislators, gamesmanship, and union thuggery of a Sacramento legislative hearing.
In California, with no oversight and no transparency, regulatory agencies pass rules by the thousand and never measure if they actually work or worry about how much they cost. Government agencies squirrel away money illegally, or violate the law, as the California High Speed Rail Authority has done with its spending of Proposition 1A funds. Or state departments perform so poorly the federal government eventually has to step in during a state of emergency – like our overcrowded prisons.
The frosting on the cake is the constant nanny state meddling in my life. I have to go through ridiculous gyrations to buy the raw milk my family and I enjoy, if I can buy it at all. I can’t sell the youth model single-shot shotgun I received for my 12th birthday to a friend so he can give it to his son without going through a third party, paying the government extra costs, and filling out a ridiculous amount of paperwork. I have to pay a parcel tax for fire services I don’t receive and don’t need. I see government workers earning big salaries and getting six-figure pensions and health care for life – lavish benefits my daughters are expected to foot the bill for even as they will try they pay for their own retirements and health care.
So simply put, California: I just can’t take it anymore. All the taxing, spending and regulating hasn’t led to a better quality of life. Maybe someday the state will once again value freedom and the entrepreneurial spirit. I hope so. But in the meantime, my family and I, like so many other successful Californians, are outta here.
Adrian Moore is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation. This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register.