A generation ago, California exemplified its nickname, “The Golden State.” State spending was less than half per capita, inflation adjusted, what it is today. Its debt-service ration was less than a third. Yet Californians enjoyed one of the finest highway systems in the world and one of the finest public educations systems in the country. Water and electricity were so cheap that many communities didn’t bother to meter consumption.
Only a few decades have passed, yet California is a dramatically altered place. The tax burden is one of the heaviest in the nation. State government consumes the largest portion of personal earnings than at any time in its history and yet can no longer maintain its basic infrastructure. The once legendary California quality of life has declined precipitously and produced an historic first: more people are now moving out of California than are moving in.
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