In their recent debate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom were at odds over the exodus of people from their respective states. Katy Grimes of the California Globe went to a different source for the data.

U-Haul calculates growth states by the net gain of one-way equipment from customer transactions in a calendar year. The company compiles data from more than 2.5 million one-way U-Haul truck, trailer, and U-Box moving container transactions occurring annually across the U.S. and Canada. The results for the past year are now in. 

“The U-Hauls leaving California in 2023 marked the fourth consecutive year the once Golden State finished on top of the U-Haul Growth Index,” notes Grimes, “meaning more Californians rented one-way U-Haul trucks to leave the state in 2023 then residents of any other state.” Departing Californians preferred Florida, Texas, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee, and Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Virginia rank in the top 10 for inbound migration. 

States on the upswing as a destination now include Washington, up from 23 to 7; Vermont, from 30 to 12; and Wyoming, from 33 to 14. Bottom feeders Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois and Massachusetts show little change, with California still holding down the 50 spot. The ongoing exodus has not sparked tax and regulatory reform in Sacramento. In fact, one response was to punish those who leave. 

Oakland Democrat Rob Bonta was the prime mover of AB 2088, the California Wealth Tax, which would have slapped a 0.4 percent tax on the portion of a taxpayer’s net worth that exceeded $30 million. The measure would have taxed former Californians 90 percent of their in-state levy in the first year after they left the state and 80 percent in the second year, phasing out over a decade. 

When challenged about the legality of taxing non-residents, Bonta said, “For 10 years, the wealth was accumulated during their time in California [so]we believe we can do that.” The Yale law alum is now California’s Attorney General. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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