Scott Wilk | 4th Largest Economy, 3rd-World Problems

Scott Wilk
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“The California Dream is alive and well,” according to Gov. Gavin Newsom. His go-to evidence of this claim is the state’s gross domestic product, which Bloomberg reported in October was poised to overtake Germany’s as fourth largest in the world behind the U.S., China and Japan. 

But GDP isn’t necessarily a great marker of overall state health – just ask ordinary Californians struggling with the cost of living, high taxes, poverty and unemployment. 

While the governor may rightfully claim, “California outperforms the U.S. and the rest of the world across many industries,” he wrongfully ignores other, less convenient go-to evidence demonstrating deep problems in the world’s fourth-largest economy. 

Let’s look at some numbers. 

According to 2020 FBI data comparing California to the rest of the nation, per person we had 66% more robberies, 21% more burglaries and 93% more motor vehicles stolen. Federal data also reveals that from 2020 to 2021, homicides increased 7.6%, rapes increased 7.4%, and aggravated assaults were up 8.4%. 

How about homelessness? According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, California is home to 171,521 individuals experiencing homelessness. This is 30% of the nation’s homeless population, despite California making up less than 12% of the nation’s total population. 

But wait, there’s more. California also is home to more than 52% of the nation’s unsheltered people – those living on the streets or in parks or cars – and has experienced the largest increase in homelessness of any state. 

From 2007 to 2022, California’s homeless population increased 23.4%. It went up 6.2% from just 2020 to 2022. Compare that to Florida, where the homeless population actually decreased 46% and 5.6%, respectively.  

Closely related to the homelessness crisis is the issue of housing, or lack thereof. California’s housing supply has trailed the nation for three decades and ranks 49th worst in the U.S. for housing per capita. 

You don’t need to move to Beverly Hills or the Bay Area to have a million-dollar home anymore. In August 2022, the state’s median home price hit an eye-watering $839,460 – more than double the national median of $379,100.  

If you’re one of the state’s 17 million renters, good luck saving up a down payment for a home that expensive. According to the Franchise Tax Board, in 2019 the state’s median income was only $41,870. With one in five California renters spending more than 50% of their income on housing, no wonder so many families are packing up and moving to other states. 

Using what I call “The U-Haul Test,” you can see the demand to get out of California is far higher than the demand to come in. Today, if you were to pick up a 20-foot box truck in Santa Clarita and drop it off in McKinney, Texas, it would cost you $4,849. The other way around? $1,478. 

On June 14, 2022, California made history when the average price for a gallon of regular gas hit an all-time high of $6.44. Combined with record-high inflation, it proved too heavy a burden for too many Californians.  

And while the governor blasts “price gouging” by oil companies, he neglects to look in the mirror and address his role in the state’s ever-expanding quest to ban gas-powered everything.  

What goes into our sky-high gas prices? A 54-cent excise tax (which increases every July 1 thanks to Senate Bill 1), 12 cents in state and local taxes, 22 cents for low-carbon gas programs, 15 cents for greenhouse gas programs, and a 2 cent underground storage fee. Moreover, federal taxes. 

We could have suspended the 54-cent excise tax long ago, but Democrats argued it would take away funding for our roads and opted for a rebate instead. Despite the billions spent each year on road funding, California still ranks 45th in the nation for highway performance and cost-effectiveness. 

If all the push is to get us out of gas-powered cars and into electric vehicles, consider this: Californians already pay 66% more for electricity on average than the rest of the nation. Plus, remember on Labor Day when the heatwave threatened our energy grid with rolling blackouts? Look forward to more of that and to being told not to charge your EV during Flex Alerts. 

You can’t make this up! The numbers don’t lie, and ordinary Californians are the ones suffering.  

Welcome to California under one-party rule: Fourth-largest economy, third-world problems.

Sen. Scott Wilk represents the 21st Senate District, which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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