A couple of years back, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research did a study trying to nail down the reasons for so many California businesses and residents pulling up stakes and taking the nearest exit out of the "Golden State."
The study, "The Great California Exodus," after examining the trend, decided that "the data suggest that many cost drivers -- taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power and high labor costs -- are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus."
There are plenty of people and think tanks who agree with that assessment, and their thinking keeps getting reinforced by current events.
Take, for example, what's happening with Tesla Motors. Officials at its headquarters in Palo Alto said this week the company planned to invest about $2 billion in a large-scale factory to produce cheaper batteries for a mass-market electric car within three years. Its current assembly facility covers more than 5 million square feet on a 370-acre site in Fremont.
So where is Tesla going to build its new battery facility, that would employ up to 6,500 people and cover as many as 1,000 acres, including solar and wind farms to supply its power needs? Not in California. It is instead evaluating sites in Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Why? See above.
Or take a less high tech, more mundane business, dairy farming. California is home to the largest dairy industry in the nation, but that may change. Since the recession, according to an Orange County Register piece this week, the state "has seen its dairy farmers struggle mightily, particularly since the recession. Hundreds of farms have shut down." A quarter of California's dairy farms have closed since 2007.
Why? See above.
Other states, hungry for growth, notice these things. One, South Dakota, is wooing the dairy farmers even as we speak. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, according to the Register, pointed out that his state has cheaper land, cheaper feed, a higher demand (and higher prices) for milk, and fewer onerous regulations.
And it also quoted one California dairy farmer as saying, "(I)n other states they roll out the red carpet (for dairies). In California, they roll out the red tape."
Gov. Jerry Brown brags about how his new budget and revenue from Proposition 30, approved by voters a couple of years ago, has California on the road to greater growth and more success. He has not, obviously, been talking to the dairy farmers. Or thousands of other former California businesses and ex-residents, who've departed for, um, greener pastures.