Fix Arizona before bashing California – Daily News

on Mar22
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To: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

From: California business columnist with a trusty spreadsheet

Things must be going well in Arizona, seeing as you have extra time to author an op-ed column “celebrating” what you think is an exodus to your state from California.

You criticized the state, writing “the Golden State’s luster wore off some time ago” and listed some of its challenges. “These outcomes don’t happen by accident. They are the result of misguided policies and misplaced priorities. Overregulation. Ever-increasing taxes. Nonstop political correctness.”

The op-ed boasts how Arizona gained nearly 130,000 new residents while California lost nearly 70,000.

While I know California’s not perfect, Gov. Ducey, I’ve got my own numbers I’d like to share.

For starters, as a former ice cream chain’s CEO, you must agree that the firm with the most customers is also most popular, right? So I want to remind you that California has more than five times the population of Arizona — 39.4 million to your 7.4 million.

Of course, the businessman in you would certainly say that customer retention is key to any organization.

Did you know, governor, when looking at census migration data based on population size, the typical Arizonan was 40% more likely to leave for another state than a Californian? Your state’s 2019 exits (the latest stats available) equaled 2.4 departures per 100,000 people vs. 1.7% in the Golden State. By the way, only three states beat the Golden State at this retention rate.

And where do folks choose when leaving? Of these interstate movers, 16% of ex-Arizonans chose California while 9% of folks departing California picked Arizona.

You also suggest in your op-ed that California is bad for business. Well, many Golden Staters see our laws as good for workers. The truth is the states are “even Steven” when it comes to job creation. Arizona bosses in the 2010s added one-fifth as many jobs as California employers. That amounted to 500,000 workers in the decade vs. 2.7 million in California. On a percentage basis, the states’ hiring was tied at 17%.

Perhaps more telling: Arizona’s employers pay three-quarters of the average California paycheck — or $56,000 compared with $76,000, respectively.

Yes, Arizona’s cost of living is 17% lower than California’s, based on the federal price parity indexes. But most California workers take a pay cut when relocating to Arizona.

To be fair, governor, I’ll agree that California’s home prices are double Arizona’s. By Zillow’s valuations, it’s $618,000 vs. $309,500. But that’s not simply a byproduct of state policy you disagree with. When you ran Cold Stone Creamery, did you see the chain’s high-end ice cream concoctions as premium-priced, luxury items or the result of poor management?

Also, Arizona deserves congratulations that your job market fared much better than California in the past year. Arizona lost just 114,000 jobs through January, a 4% dip. California lost 1.75 million, off 10%. But there was a pandemic, no? Did you notice?

Arizona’s limited COVID-19 mandates translated to pandemic deaths equaling 227 per 100,000 residents since January 2020, the fifth-worst among all of the states. That’s nearly two-thirds higher than California’s 140 per 100,000 rate, which ranked 30th in the U.S.

You also seem to forget about Election Day 2020 when Arizona voters acted a lot like Californians. Joe Biden became president with Arizona’s support. He was the first Democrat to win your state in a quarter-century.

Mark Kelly’s victory also means Arizona has two Democratic U.S. senators for the first time in nearly seven decades.

And your voters did not act very “conservative” when they approved a massive 77% income tax hike on wealthy Arizonans to fund educational improvements. Now, I’d never brag about California K-12 schools, which rank 11th worst nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report. But your state was fourth-worst!

You wrote that in Arizona “we still value common sense.” Perhaps all those ex-Californians are teaching your state a thing or two. 

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