CA GOP Convention: DeVore lays out stark CA vs. TX contrast
Mar. 2, 2013
By Katy Grimes
SACRAMENTO — Former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, left the Golden State for Texas in 2011 after he termed out. DeVore returned to his former state Friday night to speak at the dinner banquet of the California Republican Party Spring Convention in the state capitol.
Some saw him gloating over his decision to leave the state. Others saw him a recruiter for the Lone Star State.
Whatever DeVore’s role, the move he made has been very good for him, as he enjoys the benefits of living in a lower-tax, lower-regulation state.
Way back when …
DeVore harkened back to his first Republican convention in 1981. “Jerry Brown was governor,” he said, which got a big laugh from the audience. “Here we are in 2013, and Jerry Brown is once again governor. But the state of California is worse.”
DeVore said he was told to keep his speech optimistic, but admitted it would be a struggle, given California’s economic woes.
DeVore launched into the stats, facts and numbers to show the stark contrast between the beautiful but crumbling California and the economically thriving Texas — and why the Golden State can no longer rely on its stunning weather to attract and keep productive residents.
“In 1981, California was the eighth-most-taxed state,” said DeVore. “Today, California is the fourth-most-taxed state in the U.S., and that’s before the recent $50 billion tax increase” over seven years from Proposition 30, which voters passed last November.
DeVore said his decision to move to Texas was not made lightly. Prior to his first election to the Legislature in 2004, he worked in the aerospace industry in Southern California. “It’s been decimated since I worked in it,” DeVore said, as have many industries in California.
Just two weeks after leaving the Assembly in Dec. 2010, DeVore announced he expected to run for Orange County supervisor in 2012. He instead dropped out of the race after he accepted a new job — in Texas. California Republicans were shocked.
Hired as a visiting scholar at the nonprofit Texas Public Policy Foundation, DeVore was tasked with writing about Texas‘ low taxes and regulations, and contrasting Texas’ business climate with other states. DeVore is now a vice president at the think tank.
While DeVore worked on a book on Texas as a model of prosperity, he found 2 million people had moved out of California “because of government.”
In California, 11.2 percent of all personal income goes to taxes, he said. In Texas, it’s 7.9 percent. “That’s a 42 percent difference! That is why people are fleeing,” he said. “They don’t just take it from you. Bureaucrats spend it on stuff. And they fine you or send you to jail.”
High cost of regulations: Who is making money?
In 2006, a study was done on the cost of regulations in California. DeVore said then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not want to release it. But finally in 2009, when unemployment hit a 70-year high for the state, the California State University-Sacramento study came out.
DeVore said the study laid out how California’s energy policy led to the highest gasoline tax and the costliest electricity in the country. No wonder, he said, that “people will move out of California and go to Texas.”
DeVore said even Canadians have figured out how to profit off the state’s regulatory culture. “California imports a lot of electricity, but it has to be green,” said DeVore. “BC Power, in British Columbia, which got caught manipulating energy costs in 2001, exports hydroelectric power to California at a very high profit.”
But the irony is BC Power has to import its own electricity because of how much it sends to California — and it comes from power generated by coal from the state of Washington and the province of Alberta. The coal is cheaper — and in the big climate picture, its use negates California’s use of cleaner hydroelectric power. Meaning California’s policies achieved no actual reductions in greenhouse gases.
“The challenge for California is these policies lead to a higher cost of living,” DeVore explained. “Land use is restricted in California. Housing costs 176 percent of the national average. The cost of living is 33 percent higher than in Texas. It’s a big deal. It means we have to pay a lot more to work here in California.”
California’s politically incorrect oil reserves
DeVore said he hears from many people the reason Texas is economically sound is “it’s all about the oil. If California had the oil Texas has …”
But California has a massive shale formation off of the coast of Monterey and underground in the San Joaquin Valley, which is home to at least 400 billion barrels of oil, he said. “This is one-half of the reserves in Saudi Arabia,” said DeVore. “But politics is preventing California from getting at the oil.”
State legislators don’t have the same appreciation of the private sector in California that they do in Texas. DeVore said his research found that in California, only 18 percent of Democratic lawmakers have a private sector background. In Texas, 75 percent of the lawmakers, all part-time legislators, come from the private sector.
“In California, [Democratic lawmakers] are mostly community organizers,” he said.
Poverty in the Golden State
“If California keeps raising taxes, we won’t see many Hollywood tycoons. They will leave,” DeVore said.
However, according to DeVore, it is the poor who are most affected by California policies.
A study after the 2012 election found California has the highest poverty rate in the country at 23.5 percent. “Do [the poor] benefit from high taxes, and high energy costs? Who benefits from things continuing as they are today?” DeVore asked.
He said the challenge is, “How do we communicate to people who would most benefit from our policies? California is still a bellwether state. It gave nation Ronald Reagan and Proposition 13. If we can get a few things right, it would herald a turnaround for America itself. That s how important it is right now.”
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