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EDITORIAL: Red states, blue states — a tale of migration

U.S. migration patterns speak volumes about progressive governance. Will Nevada Democrats heed the message?

The Tax Foundation this month released a study of IRS and Census data from 2019 through 2021 delving into the relocation habits of Americans. The clear conclusion: “That people and businesses favor states with low and structurally sound tax systems, which can impact the state’s economic growth and governmental coffers,” the report found.

The trend is true across income levels, but it is most pronounced among those with $200,000 or more in adjusted gross earnings. The most popular inbound states for high earners were Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and South Carolina. The biggest losers were California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Notice the pattern? The contrast between high-tax (blue) and low-tax states (red) could not be more clear.

“While taxes are just one factor influencing the location decisions of individuals and businesses, they are an important factor — and one within policymakers’ control,” the Tax Foundation notes. “States that prioritize structurally sound tax policy improvements will reap the economic benefits that come with creating an attractive fiscal landscape in which all individuals and businesses have the opportunity to thrive.”

Nevada is somewhat of an anomaly. The state has trended blue in recent elections, but it has no state income tax and was among the states with the highest net gains in taxpayer adjusted gross income. No doubt its proximity to California makes it attractive for those looking to escape the Golden State’s oppressive tax and regulatory regime.

The ramifications of migration should concern policymakers, the Tax Foundation argues, because of “the effect of interstate migration on tax revenue, economic output and economic growth over time.” Indeed, in a similar analysis by the National Taxpayer Foundation, Nevada ranked second behind Florida in increasing its tax base due to new arrivals.

How long this will continue is up to state voters. Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, has pledged to hold the line on tax hikes, but his veto pen may soon turn to dust. Legislative Democrats currently have a veto-proof majority in the Assembly and are one seat shy of the same in the Senate. If the state GOP continues its recent record of electoral futility next November, it’s possible that there will be few checks on the progressive instincts of the majority leadership during the 2025 legislative session.

That is something for Nevada voters to consider as they ponder their choices next year.

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