"I'm going to California where they sleep out every night," sang Jimmie Rodgers in his "Blue Yodel No. 4 (California Blues)." In 1929, when the "singing brakeman" recorded this song, California was still the Golden State and attracted tens of thousands of new residents each year. Whether it was the lure of a mild climate, the promise of job opportunities, or visions of the silver screen, people wanted to come to California. But that was 1929, eighty years ago. In 2009, not many people are "going to California where they sleep out every night."

For the past four years, California has lost more residents to other states than it has gained from them. And although a net loss of 144,000 in 2008 isn't such a large number considering that our population is close to 40 million, it does give us the dubious distinction of ranking first on a list of states whose residents are leaving in search of greener pastures at a higher rate than residents of other states arrive here in search of them. Thanks to births and immigration, both legal and illegal, California's population is still on the rise overall, but it has lost some of the appeal and attractiveness to people considering a state-to-state move.

The past four years of steady flight out of state is just one more reflection of the obvious: something is dreadfully wrong in California! I love the state where I was born and raised and because I do, I worry about its future. The November 2008 unemployment rate for California reached 8.4%, placing us third behind Michigan (9.6%) and Rhode Island (9.4%). Our budget deficit, according to the Governator's State of the State speech (1-15-09), has shot up to $40 BILLION through 2010. California's deficit is larger than the operating budgets of every single state in the Union but New York! The San Jose Mercury News has a fantastic article putting the numbers in their proper perspectives, and all I can say about it is that they are frightening.

Toto, we may not be in Kansas anymore, but we're not heading for California!
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