By Victor Davis Hanson
Driving across California is like going from Mississippi to Massachusetts without ever crossing a state line.
Consider the disconnects: California’s combined income and sales taxes are among the nation’s highest, but the state’s annual deficit is still about $16 billion. It is estimated that more than 2,000 upper-income Californians are leaving per week to flee high taxes and costly regulations, yet the state government wants to raise taxes even higher. California’s business climate already ranks near the bottom in most surveys. Its teachers are among the highest paid, on average, in the nation, but its public-school students consistently test near the bottom of the nation in both math and science.
The state’s public employees enjoy some of the nation’s most generous pensions and benefits, but California’s retirement systems are underfunded by about $300 billion. The state’s gas taxes — at over 49 cents per gallon — are among the highest in the nation, but its once-unmatched freeways, like 101 and 99, for long stretches have degenerated into potholed, clogged nightmares unchanged since the early 1960s.