New data from the Census Bureau tell a story that’s sadly familiar: people are leaving California for states including Texas and fleeing New York for places like Florida.

The final population estimates from the United States government ahead of the 2020 Census show the country’s population shifting south and west, or put another way, to states where the taxes and the cost of living are lower.

The Constitution requires reapportionment of the seats in the House of Representatives every 10 years. By December, Census data will determine how many representatives in Congress, and how many votes in the Electoral College, each state will have for the next ten years. It appears California is going to lose a seat in Congress for the first time in its history.

The political consulting firm Election Data Services estimates that Texas will gain three seats and Florida two. California, New York and Illinois are expected to each lose one House seat, as are Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

States projected to gain a seat include Arizona, Colorado, Oregon and North Carolina. Montana, which currently has only one representative in Congress, may pick up another.

California is taking steps to avoid an undercount of the population. However, a report from the Department of Finance confirms that during the year that ended June 30, more people moved out than moved in. The state’s net population grew by just one-third of a percent, after growing at just 0.57 percent the previous year. That’s the slowest growth in about a century.

New York isn’t doing any better. The state’s population decreased for the fourth straight year. Nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers left for other states over the last decade.

One factor in the recent exodus from high-tax states could be the 2017 federal tax law’s limitation of the deduction for state and local taxes. If so, that’s a bad omen for California’s future budgets. The general fund depends heavily on the personal income tax paid by a relatively small number of high-income taxpayers. Forty-nine states have a lower tax rate, or no income tax at all.

Reapportionment is poised to put one California politician out of work. Maybe that’ll cause the rest of them to ask why so many people are leaving.


(c)2020 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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