He being wealthy Republican Douglas A. Roscoe Jr., aka "Doug Ducey," the governor of Arizona. In his State of the State address, he made a special point of contrasting Arizona's supposedly booming economy vs. the alleged economic disaster of the Golden State. As in, "So the goal is simple – to grow our economy, to take full advantage of our geography to better address the needs of businesses fleeing California and other states on the decline, and to ensure job creators who are already here, stay and thrive."
Let's look at the facts.
In November, the most recent month for which statistics are available, California's unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. Arizona's was 6 percent.
As of 2014, the most recent year available, Californians enjoyed a per capita personal income of $50,109; Arizonans struggled with $37,895. Median household income was $60,487 in California vs. $49,254 in Arizona. These are the "job creators," citizens with the incomes to spend and invest.
California has added 2 million new jobs over the past six years to reach a new record high. So much for companies "fleeing." Indeed, it is one of the most robust states for company formation and startups.
Arizona's gross domestic product is still below its pre-recession peak and stumbled along with 1.4 percent growth in 2014. California's GDP is at new record highs and grew more than 2.5 percent annually.
California's workforce and total population are at all-time highs. The workforce was growing at more than 2.6 percent a year as of November. Population growth was about 1 percent. Arizona's workforce remained below its pre-recession peak but was growing at 2.5 percent. Population growth in Arizona has bumped along at less than 1.5 percent since the Great Recession, historic lows.
As for quality of jobs, California had 473,600 in the broad sector of information while Arizona posted 44.500.
Globally, where California would be the world's eighth-largest economy if it were independent, the state has $3,233 per-capita in exports compared with Arizona's $2,517. It has the megaports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, among the world's largest.
The Golden State is a net giver to the federal budget, getting back 68 cents for every dollar. Like most red states, Arizona is a net taker, getting $1.47 for every dollar.
California boasts three of the nation's most populous cities. It has three of the largest metropolitan statistical areas. Among them is Los Angeles, ranked as an Alpha Global City. San Francisco is an Alpha-minus, San Diego a Beta-minus. Phoenix came in as a Gamma-plus in the most recent study by GaWC, the eighth classification down and punching far below its weight.
The Best Cities ranking by the influential Economist Intelligence Unit placed Los Angeles and San Francisco 17th and 18th in the world respectively. Phoenix did not appear at all.
California, of course, is home to Silicon Valley, the sui generis planetary capital of technology which cannot, despite anyone's hype, be replicated somewhere else. Silicon Valley has minted nearly all the so-called unicorns of the latest business cycle, Arizona none.
Silicon Valley costs do indeed have its companies "fleeing" to set up branch operations elsewhere. Unfortunately, they choose places with cool downtowns, knowledge economies, and the amenities that will attract talent. This is one of the big driver's of Seattle's historic boom. Arizona has nothing to compete.
California is home to some of the world's leading universities. Among the 62 most elite institutions in the Association of American Universities, California has nine, more than any other state. Arizona has one, the University of Arizona. But the long war Republican legislators have waged against higher education continues to hobble these essential engines of quality growth. The UA just announced new cutbacks to research.
More than 45 percent of Silicon Valley residents had a B.A. degree or higher in 2010; more than 43 percent in San Francisco, and nearly 34 percent in San Diego. In Phoenix, it was 27 percent, far below peer metros.
The best Arizona can muster is for Phoenix to be the back office of LA, selling cheap labor, cheap tract houses, and sunshine. California is also happy to defile rural Arizona to meet its power needs.
This becomes much more problematic as Arizona is now a populous, urbanized state with high carrying costs but lacking the economy or infrastructure to support them. It is failing in world competition because its elites only want to build more heavily subsidized sprawl.
The governor was proud to welcome the "sharing economy" no questions asked. So the otherwise known "starving economy" will further drive down the bargaining power and wages of Arizona workers — while enriching California tech billionaires.
Ducey's crowing about Arizona being better prepared for water shortages is too ludicrous for this column. And his call to "identify future infrastructure needs so we don’t end up like sorry California" is a head scratcher. LA, the Bay Area and even San Diego have made major progress on light-rail, subways, commuter rail, and intercity rail. The Arizona Legislature is still trying to submarine Phoenix's light-rail system (but, WBIYB).
We live in a post-fact, post-rational era, so nothing I have written will dent Ducey's message. It is aimed at his base that "makes its own reality."
Ducey is a low-rent version of Michigan's Rick Snyder, and Florida's Rick Scott, the businessman-as-government-savior. None has worked out well because government is not a business. In Ducey's case, the California strawman is a nice distraction — talking points from right-wing central, right down to "businesses fleeing" — from the catastrophe of one-party rule in Arizona.