Dear Mr. Limbaugh:
I noted your evident frustration this week with the high tax policies of New York that subject you to a punitive income tax rate anytime you step foot in the state to perform your show. I was delighted that you expressed an interest in making Texas the home of your alternate studio whenever hurricanes chase you out of Florida.
If you come to Texas to do business, you wouldn’t be alone. Texas has ranked in the top five states for the last five years when it comes to attracting new and expanded facilities, according to Site Selection magazine.
In fact, our success has come at the expense of your soon-to-be-former workplace. Last year, Texas surpassed New York as home to the most Fortune 500 companies. Texas now boasts 58 Fortune 500 headquarters, ahead of New York’s 55 and California’s 52.
Why is Texas forging ahead of the competition? Well, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that Texas doesn’t have a state income tax. The people of Texas still have the same spirit of independence that attracted folks from all over the U.S. to fight at the Alamo so long ago. We don’t believe that the government is the solution to all the world’s problems and we’d just as soon leave people’s money in their own pockets where it will be the most productive.
A recent Texas Public Policy Foundation study showed how this attitude has made Texas a better place than California to do business. California’s overall tax burden is $118.33 per $1,000 of personal income. Texas’ is $99.49. California government spends $9,448.26 per capita. Texas spends $6,652.11.
And the kicker: California’s personal income tax progressivity is $33.58. Texas’? Try zero.
I suspect the results would be similar in a head-to-head competition with New York. And the way things are going in Florida these days, it may not be long before you start thinking about moving your studio to Texas on a permanent basis.
It is true that Florida doesn’t have an income tax. But that may not last long. Florida’s ill-considered decision to get into the homeowners’ insurance business has the state facing bankruptcy if a major hurricane makes landfall there this summer. With a potential liability of $32 billion, Florida will have to turn to either its citizens or the federal government to make up the shortfall. I am fairly certain, Mr. Limbaugh, you will be on the short list of those solicited to contribute.
Businesses are noticing this too. Florida bounces in and out of Site Selection’s top 10 ranking and is only 11th on the Fortune 500 list.
So if you come to Texas, where should you live? While Texas is a great place, we do have our flaws like everywhere else. So let me provide you with some local knowledge that may help in your decision about where to relocate.
I’d avoid downtown El Paso at all costs. That city is prepared to use eminent domain to reshape parts of the area into a livable, workable urban utopia. Never mind the forced dislocation of the thousands of people who already live and work there.
The Metroplex is a great area, but may be getting much more expensive pretty soon. Local business and government “leaders” are proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes to fund rail and other transportation projects. This is the same group, of course, that agreed to limit transportation options in the area through restrictions on air travel through Love Field.
Houston might be a good choice for you. Though its moniker of “free market city” may be something of an anachronism, it still doesn’t have zoning, so you could build your new home and studio together in the location of your choice.
Wherever you wind up, Rush, we’d welcome your entrepreneurial spirit to Texas. Let’s hope that you join with another famous Texas transplant and freedom fighter, Davy Crockett, in saying, “You can all go to hell; I am going to Texas.”
Bill Peacock is the Director for the Center for Economic Freedom with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin.