This year Gov. Gavin Newsom is skipping giving a formal State of the State Address. The California Constitution only requires, “The Governor shall report to the Legislature each calendar year on the condition of the State and may make recommendations.” He will be submitting that report in writing, as well as giving a series of talks around the state touting what he calls the California Way.
That makes sense as he can practice his campaign skills in anticipation of a potential presidential run should President Joe Biden decide not to run again. Newsom will try out new political themes and see how crowds and the media react.
But what is the real State of the State of California? Here’s a summary:
The image I always have in my mind is from the spring of 1975, when I was 19, as Communist North Vietnam’s troops drove tanks into South Vietnam. People fled, walking and hand-pulling carts, from the Northern part of South Vietnam toward Saigon. Then Saigon fell, with the image of the last American helicopter lifting off from the U.S. Embassy.
Then the “Boat People” fled newly conquered South Vietnam, hundreds of thousands arriving in America, especially to Little Saigon in Orange County. I know many of them and they are my friends.
In the past two years under Newsom’s rule, California’s population has dropped by 500,000. Several of my friends have left in just the past year, the latest destination being Tennessee. Others previously fled to Texas and Florida. At least they didn’t have to walk.
Economist Arthur Laffer, who himself split California two decades ago for the Volunteer State, just wrote in the Wall Street Journal with Stephen Moore, “The ‘Hotel California’ Wealth Tax: If you can never escape, why would you want to live there in the first place?” The gist:
California and New York impose income tax rates that can exceed 13%, but their budget deficits are mounting. Lawmakers in Sacramento and Albany think the answer is to soak the rich even more. Yet Florida, Tennessee and Texas impose no state income tax and all have sturdy surpluses. Their coffers are so full, they are looking to cut taxes. How is that possible?
One reason is that low-tax red states are importing capital and wealth from the high-tax blue states. For more than three decades we have examined state-by-state financial and demographic data collected by the Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau. The latest numbers make clear this trend is accelerating.
In the past 10 years, six of the seven high-tax blue states have had a net loss of population to other states, totaling nearly five million residents. (Washington, which has no income tax, has gained over the decade.) They’ve also lost almost a quarter-trillion dollars in cumulative taxable income: California $50 billion, Connecticut $14 billion, Illinois $47 billion, Maryland $14 billion, Massachusetts $13 billion, New Jersey $26 billion and New York $79 billion. That’s only the money on personal income-tax returns. It doesn’t count lost revenue from corporate profits or sales.
No wonder California lost one congressional seat in the 2022 election, while Florida gained one and Texas, two.
Newsom’s excessive lockdowns of schools sharply dropped student test scores, already among the lowest in the nation. The giant Los Angeles Unified School District made that worse by imposing its own extended lockdowns. Based on data from the state Department of Education, here’s a chart provided by two education scholars at Stanford University for English Language Arts (ELA):
The authors concluded:
This impact on ELA development in the primary grades is concerning given the importance of literacy for academic development. A large body of prior research has identified literacy by the third grade as a critical gateway for students’ future academic and life success. If students are unable to regain this loss, they may experience delays in other reading-related skill building, making it difficult to access future academic content and learning.
These results may portend additional literacy impacts on students in younger grades, whose critical preschool and kindergarten years were disrupted by school closures and distance learning.
The math numbers also were dismal. How is America supposed to compete with Communist China and other rivals when California, the nation’s high-tech citadel, can’t produce even a minimal level of talent to keep up, let alone surpass them?
According to a report by the Public Policy Institute of California:
California’s violent crime rate increased by 6.0%, from 440 per 100,000 residents in 2020 to 466 in 2021. While robberies fell somewhat (by 1.9%), aggravated assaults jumped by 8.9%, and homicides and rape increased by 7.7% and 7.9%, respectively. …
California’s violent crime rate in 2020 (the latest nationwide statistics available) was higher than the national rate of 387 per 100,000 residents and ranked 16th nationwide.
Los Angeles and San Francisco have become global bywords for crime under progressive district attorneys. Homelessness makes their streets unlivable for regular folks just trying to live a normal life. Left-wing District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled in San Francisco, but it will be years before the city recovers, if it ever does.
Meanwhile, Newsom touts the dozens of new anti-gun laws he has signed. But these laws only disarm the law-abiding, leaving them vulnerable to criminals—even as police enforcement declines.
When Bill and Hillary Clinton campaigned to be “co-presidents” back in 1992, they hit on a slogan: abortion ought to be “safe, legal, and rare.” It was a lamentation that abortion existed, but the government shouldn’t ban it. But in recent years, especially under Newsom, abortion has been celebrated as a positive good. As I wrote earlier in The Epoch Times, Newsom now even is dictating to other states what can be dispensed in their pharmacies—in particular, abortifacients.
He has signed many pro-abortion laws, even paying for abortions for women from other states. Normal medical precautions for operations in general have been removed, increasing the danger to the mother’s life. He is turning California into the country’s pro-abortion capital, what some call an “abortion sanctuary.”
Now there is Senate Bill 385, a new bill by Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). In the bill’s language, it “would revise the training requirements to instead require a physician assistant to achieve clinical competency by successfully completing requisite training, as described, in performing an abortion by aspiration techniques.” That is, instead of a medical doctor performing the abortion, a less-qualified physician assistant could do so.
The new abortion slogan in California should be making it “unsafe, ultra-legal, and frequent.”
In short, the real state of California is dismal. For those of us still here, our friends are leaving, our taxes and general cost of living are rising, our chance of getting conked on the head and robbed, even murdered, is rising, and our schools are declining from already rock-bottom levels.
It takes a lot to push people out of paradise. But that’s the State of the State in the Year of Our Lord 2023. And it’s not likely to change until voters rise up and insist on true reforms.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.