Simply put, California and Texas have competing visions for America’s future.
Alexandra Suich Bass is senior correspondent at The Economist, and recently wrote a story looking at this tension between two of the country’s largest states. Suich Bass says there’s rivalry between them, in part, because each experiments with radically different policies.
“Some of that is simply reflective of how these states embody completely different visions in the country,” Suich Bass says. “We have California as a high-tax, high-regulation state. Texas is a low-tax, low-regulation state.”
Suich Bass says the competition between the two is compounded by their sizes and successes.
“They’re the largest states by population,” Suich Bass says. “They also have America’s largest economies. If they were countries, they would be the fifth- and tenth-largest in the world.”
California and Texas have similar demographics: 40% of the population in both states is people of Hispanic origin. But the difference between them is how the state is involved in people’s lives. Suich Bass says California, for example, spends more on welfare programs, public education and health care.
“In California, high taxes are used to fund a more extensive social safety net,” Suich Bass says. “ Texas – with no state income tax – is a more minimal model. … Very different philosophies that I think play out in very practical, real ways in the daily lives of citizens.”
But Suich Bass says Texas’ relative lack of a bureaucracy could be an advantage.
“Texas has more room to maneuver,” Suich Bass says. “It has less bureaucracy, and I think political competition today is causing politicians to rethink their old way of doing things. … That mentality will cause Texas to turn around.”
And Suich Bass says Texas makes up for its weaknesses by offering a more affordable lifestyle compared to that of California. That has attracted people and companies to move to the state. Between 2007 and 2016, Suich Bass says more than 1 million people relocated to another state from California, and Texas was the most popular destination.
“The lack of affordability in California is key,” Suich Bass says. “The majority of people who are moving are not millions in California who are wanting to escape state income tax, although there are some of those. It’s actually people who are earning less than $50,000 a year and can not afford a place to live.”
Written by Hayden Baggett.