“Look, I came out here in 1983. I found paradise. I love California. I do. I don’t want to leave, but I feel like I’m living in Italy in the ’70s or something. Super-high taxes, potholes in the road, fires. I don’t know what I’m getting for my super-high taxes.”
The comment above wasn’t made by Rush Limbaugh or Arnold Schwarzenegger or Clint Eastwood. The quote is from a famous lefty and talk-show host, Bill Maher, last week on his program. There is an exodus happening in California. Newspapers in bordering towns are writing about incoming moving vans. And for all of the high taxes there, at least the government creates rolling blackouts when energy demand gets high. The state government blames wildfires on climate change (and there may be something — a lot — to that) but holds to policies that allow dead kindling wood to stack up in forests. Sacramento wants to outlaw sales of new gas vehicles in the next few decades while millions of acres of wildfires belch carbon into the air. Madness, madness. Last month, The New York Times interviewed former Gov. Jerry Brown about all this, and the headline blared:
Jerry Brown on a California exodus: ‘Tell me: Where are you going to go?’
Well, to be fair, the headline took the comment way out of context, which is refreshing really. The New York Times doesn’t just pull that stuff on conservatives. The former governor was making the point in the story that climate change affects the number of tornadoes in the Midwest, too. So you can’t really flee the problem. What you can flee, however, is confiscatory taxes. You can flee to Arkansas. We were pleasantly surprised to see Michael Wickline’s story in Sunday’s paper about the tax decreases to come in Arkansas, and more tax relief proposed in the future. What really caught our eye, like a sign for free ice cream, was this:
In addition, Revenue Division officials developed a proposal [for a commissioner] that would create an income tax exemption for every new Arkansas resident for five years. They projected more than 9,000 new residents a year would be affected by this proposal, and it would reduce general revenue by $16.5 million in the first year, $33 million in the second year, $49.5 million in the third year, $66 million in the fourth year, and $82.5 million a year in the fifth year and in the future. The proposed income tax exemption “could withstand scrutiny under the equal protection clause, if upon legal challenge, the U.S. Supreme Court or Arkansas Supreme Court determined a rational basis for enactment of the exemption for a certain class of taxpayers was identified,” according to the proposal.
Glory be. We’ve been pushing this idea for years. Could it be that somebody still reads editorials these days? Even if it’s just the occasional budget expert in state government, we’ll take it. If Arkansas noised it about that new residents to this state would pay no income tax for five years, how many people from other states (not just California) might move here? If the state expects 9,000 more people each year, based on 2016 Census information (we asked them), we’d imagine that even more might consider flyover country a destination if word got out about this tax plan. Also, the revenue office told us it just considered the loss of revenue from the income tax, which is fair. But we should point out that an influx of new residents would pay sales taxes. And perhaps move their money to banks in this state. And buy a new house, start a business, give to charity and other American things. As much as we hate math: If the state expects 9,000 people and a loss of $16.5 million the first year, then the state would “lose” less than $2,000 a year in income taxes. But if each person made and spent at least $25,000, and paid a 9% sales tax . . . carry the 2 . . . that would more than make up for the supposed loss. And everyone in the state stands to gain. A larger population would mean a rise in revenues from property taxes as home prices rise, more money for roads and infrastructure, more representation in Congress eventually, etc. If there is another of these other, lesser 50 states doing such a thing, we haven’t heard of it. This could be national news. If we’d only do it. Maybe this proposal doesn’t mean