OPINION by T. KEITH GURNEE
Gov. Gavin Newsom, having recently released his revised 2019-2020 California budget with its highly touted $21.5 billion surplus, is doubling-down on welcoming thousands of undocumented immigrants flooding across our border. Not only is Newsom throwing more gasoline on the volatile human crisis at the border, he’s now calling for California taxpayers to foot the bill for providing health coverage for those coming here illegally.
But here’s the real dichotomy. At the same time California’s border is being besieged, we are witnessing an exodus of job-creating companies and well-to-do taxpayers fleeing high-tax California for other low-tax states. While Newsom’s Sanctuary State might be a great refuge for the inflow of undocumented immigrants, it’s not for the outflow of California’s well-to-do taxpayers.
The “inflow” crisis
The rate of undocumented immigrants flowing across America’s southern border has not only hit an all-time high, it’s accelerating. This past March and April, upwards of 106,000 illegals per month have entered the United States, outstripping our country’s abilities to handle this flood. Now, in the month of May, that rate has increased to 4,500 to 5,000 immigrants per day, pushing it up to 150,000 per month.
Consider this. This rate of illegal immigration is equivalent to adding a city the size of Waco, or Yuma, or Las Cruces, or San Mateo, or Santa Maria each and every month.
Should this trend continue over a twelve-month period, we’ll be importing 1,500,000 undocumented immigrants into our country. That’s roughly the size of such U.S. cities as San Antonio, or San Diego, or Phoenix, or three times the size of Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico per year.
It took all of these cities well over 150 years to reach their current populations and meet their infrastructure, economic, educational, and social needs. Yet we continue to tolerate thousands flooding our borders with no housing, no funding, no jobs, little or no education, and no means of support.
And now Newsom wants us to pay for health care for those here illegally? How is this sustainable? And what does this say to those Latinos, Asians and other immigrants from foreign lands who worked so hard to learn our language and become naturalized American citizens, only to see undocumented immigrants rewarded in this way?
And the “outflow” crisis
California is one of the highest taxed states in the USA. California’s top bracket income tax rate of 13.3 percent is the highest in the nation. California’s sales tax rates and gas taxes are also rank among the highest in the land. Yet California continues its wasteful spending. In the face of this, an increasing exodus of job-creating companies like Tesla and others are fleeing California for more tax-friendly states like Nevada, Texas, and North Carolina. This bodes ill for California’s ultimate solvency.
Before his election in 2018, Newsom advocated increasing the heavy tax burden on only the wealthiest Californians to accomplish his big government agenda. With the top 5 percent of well-to-do Californians already paying 80 percent of California’s current income tax revenues, many of those taxpayers aren’t taking it anymore. Indications are that they too are fleeing to states without income taxes.
A friend, a former Californian who once paid very high state income taxes, moved to Reno, Nevada, a no- income tax state, in 2006. After becoming a developer, he told me that every house, lot, and condo he developed in the last three years has been sold to wealthy emigrants fleeing California. Many other once successful people here have also moved there or to other states without or with much lower income taxes.
With California’s crumbling infrastructure, its insecure water resources, and the billions it’s been wasting on that bullet train to nowhere that recently lost $1 billion in Federal funding, California is a troubled state utterly lacking in fiscal discipline. With California, its cities, and counties awash in the unfunded liability of hundreds of billions of dollars in public pension debt with little prospect of paying it off, its troubles will only get worse.
Then add on the financial burden of $98 million to $3.2 billion per year to provide health care for thousands of illegal immigrants per year as a further incentive for California’s companies and taxpayers to look for greener pastures.
Which begs the question: if these trends continue, who will be left to pay California’s bills?
What’s the solution?
Control the “inflow”, staunch the “outflow,” and enact comprehensive immigration reform.
California needs to end its Sanctuary City and Sanctuary State policies that only exacerbate the tragedies of human trafficking, the drugs crossing our border, the human suffering, and the loss of innocent American lives at the hands of illegal deportees.
Meanwhile, California should take some serious steps to address the issues affecting its solvency by cutting taxes and reducing its spending to help stem the outflow of job creators and high-earning taxpayers to low tax states.
Instead, Newsom should consider doing three things:
Pledge to end his sanctuary policies provided Washington D.C. enacts comprehensive immigration reform within a three-month period.
Work on statewide tax reform and reduce taxes to spur California’s economy and make California a “sanctuary state” to keep job-creators and taxpayers in California rather than repelling them.
Use part of his $21.5 billion surplus to help pay down California’s public pension debt rather than imposing yet another financial obligation to fund health care for non-Americans.
Would Newsom have the political courage to take on such initiatives? As the architect of sanctuary policies, it’s highly doubtful. If he doesn’t, the least he should do is put his sanctuary policies to a public vote. But If he does, he’d be a national hero for helping solve one of the most vexing issues of our time.
It’s time for Congress to do the people’s work. Both Republicans and Democrats need to back off their hardened positions, quit acting like children, and come together to find common ground on a workable immigration policy.
Comprehensive, compassionate, and enforceable immigration reform is essential to ending the bitter political divide over this issue.