Soak the Rich and Lose the Rich

The Wall Street Journal had an excellent article about the negative impact of high marginal tax rates yesterday. The article discussed misguided efforts by politicians in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon to increase income tax rates on the highest earners within their respective borders. While politicians facing massive, spending-induced budget deficits are certainly eager to get their mitts on “excess” earnings of the “rich,” the track record of these politicians in doing so without destroying wealth is rather spotty.
As the authors point out:

From 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. Over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

So, the truth is that the taxing and spending policies of America’s most poorly run and rapacious states are simply pushing productive activity to more fiscally-responsible states like Texas. In fact, the authors point out, “Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined.”
To the credit of New Mexico politicians, income taxes were not increased during the last legislative session although such a move was considered as part of the education tax hike effort that subsequently passed the House in another form. Despite his failings in other areas, Governor Richardson should be applauded for his role in reducing New Mexico’s top income tax rate from 8.2 to 4.9 percent.