The question over whether California is still a desirable place to do business is being asked once again following the announcement recently that Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is moving to Texas. Musk believes California officials are relying too heavily on the state's past reputation as an economic powerhouse and leader in technological innovation.
That was the subject of a segment on the Monday edition of the KFBK Morning News in which the issue of a "tech exodus" was discussed. Also discussed was a recent opinion piece penned by financial expert Kelly Brothers of Genovese, Burford, and Brothers in Sacramento.
Listen to the full KFBK segment and read the entire Kelly Brothers editorial below.
The Incalculable Cost of One F-U
Editorial By Kelly Brothers
As Covid descended on California in March and April of this year, economies began to shut down and the debate raged over what businesses were deemed “essential.” There was a rather public dialogue between Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, and Alameda County authorities regarding the forced shutdown of the Tesla plant in Fremont.
This dialogue we punctuated by a pithy tweet from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez who describes herself as a Progressive Latina Democrat, “F*ck Elon Musk.”
At that time, we had no idea how much that tweet… and attitude… would cost us.
Elon Musk threatened to leave the state. The Governor was dismissive, saying “Elon Musk isn’t leaving California anytime soon.”
Six months later, Elon Musk has left California. He has sold (or is in process of selling) all his personal real estate in the state. He is now a resident of the state of Texas. He has moved his philanthropic foundation to Texas. One of his companies, Space X, is based in Texas and Tesla is building a new plant outside of Austin, TX.
Consider the unfathomable irony of progressive democrats forcing Elon Musk to give up on California. Musk came to this state as an immigrant and proceeded to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through Solar City and Tesla than all the “progressive” politicians in the state combined. Anyone can make a proclamation or talk about climate change. Musk didn’t talk about it. He simply brought products to market that benefitted the consumer, the environment, and his shareholders. He should have been the “poster boy” for the green agenda, but instead they turned on him because he refused to buckle to arbitrary regulations based on flimsy medical data. (By the way, automobile manufacturing is now deemed “essential” in CA.)
There is no way to know for sure what Mr. Musk will pay in California state tax this year, but it would surprise no one if he paid the most of any individual resident. Next year, he will be a resident of another state.
The damage goes much deeper than the tax revenue of one person. Musk didn’t just leave the state. He “turned” on the state. It is now his mission to get other innovators to leave as well. According to the Governor of Texas, he is on the phone with Musk once a week, strategizing about how to get other CA companies to relocate to Texas. In the last few weeks, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Oracle have moth announced they are moving their HQs to Texas, with other potential moves in the pipeline.
That is not to say this was all caused by one tweet. Plenty of other factors are in play.
· Companies are realizing they don’t need a highly centralized HQ, with their employees being productive from wherever they choose to live.
· The high cost of living in the bay area…
· Governments inability to deal with highly visible issues like homelessness. Executives have grown tired to stepping over syringes and feces in the streets of San Francisco.
But the fact remains, CA state income tax is the highest, CA’s ranking for “business friendliness” is lowest, and we have elected representatives who would lob crass, vulgar f-bombs at the people who are paying the freight.
Half the tax in this state is paid by the top 1%, and many in that category are realizing they can make their living from anywhere. Try to add up the lost tax revenues of having the second wealthiest man in the world and the executive teams of great companies like HP and Oracle depart the state. We’re talking billions of dollars in lost revenue. Not to mention the philanthropy, which is gone too.
Any Progressive agenda only has value if someone can pay for it.
The next time the state raises your taxes to make up for the taxpayers who have left CA, try not to use the language employed by Ms. Gonzalez. But no one would blame you if you did…..