Californians Fleeing 'Nanny State' for Texas

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One out of five Americans lives in either California or Texas. But recently there's been a mass exodus from the Golden State to the Lone Star State.

Life-long Californian Sylvia Beltran will soon join them.

"It breaks my heart," Beltran told CBN News, "because to live here in Southern California, you can be at the beach in an hour and you can be up skiing in an hour."

Those positives haven't stopped some 3.5 million residents from deserting the state in the last 30 years. The top reasons: a bad business climate, high taxes, and bad government. Those leaving believe it's going to get worse, not better.

While driving to Arizona, Beltran said she "saw one van coming into California and we saw probably half-a-dozen vans moving out."

"Voters are voting in a sense with their moving trucks," said Meredith Turney, a Californian who recently returned to her native state of Texas.

Worst of the Nanny States

One major reason for Turney's move is her frustration with California being the worst of the nanny states.

"The legislators in Sacramento think that they know better than the public how you should be running your life," Turney complained. "And that kind of mentality -- I just couldn't deal with that. I want to live in a state that respects my freedom."

Turney pointed out that state lawmakers introduce about 2,000 new laws a year.

"Two-thousand new laws that those legislators believe people in California need to abide by," Turney said.

Turney worked in Sacramento as a lobbyist for pro-family causes, which she said often led to lawmakers treating her horribly.

"It was very common for me to go into the capitol building to testify on pro-family policies and be called a bigot and be called ignorant," she recalled.

It was that kind of thing that made Linda Freeman's family head back to Texas just 18 months after moving to Marin County north of San Francisco for her husband's work.

Freeman said she was constantly confronted by a harsh, judgmental attitude.

"A very prosecutorial mindset," Freeman explained. "And I don't mean the government, just the government. I mean the people."

Freeman described these Californians' mindset: "If you use plastic bags, we're going to call the authorities. If you buy purebred dogs, we're going to call the authorities. If you give your children gluten and milk, we're going to call the authorities. These are your neighbors!"

Jesus Not Allowed

Her Christian home-schooled family encountered trouble right from the start.

"You could have a friendly, productive, deeply spiritual conversation about the monkey god Hanuman, but you could not talk about Jesus Christ," Freeman stated. "Buddhist, Hindu, whatever -- 'yay!' Christian -- 'boo!'"

When Turney was school-aged, her parents were worried about the California authorities finding out too much about the Turneys' home-schooling.

"There's just a very nanny state mentality that says, 'If you're not raising your children according to the way that we believe you should be, then we'll take your children from you,'" Turney explained.

"Out there I just found it to be very oppressive and a little scary because from prosecution really flows persecution," Freeman added.

It's that kind of atmosphere that has Beltran planning to leave as soon as she and her husband can retire, possibly to the Lone Star State.

"California is losing a lot of employers to Texas," Beltran said. "I want to go see why."

Demonizing Entrepreneurship

Former California lawmaker Chuck Devore said it's because Texas is so pro-business, while the Golden State taxes and regulates companies near to death.

"The average small business in California is hit for about $134,000 per year in compliance costs to comply with the regulations in the state of California," he said.

Dozens of companies are considering packing up and leaving. Dozens already have.

One company that moved this year was the gun business Shield Tactical, which relocated from Orange County to the small town of Shiner, Texas. California so infuriated the owner, John Harrington, he felt he had to leave.

Harrington was a Christian owner of a gun business: three strikes in the minds of many in the Golden State.

"A business is a necessary evil in the state of California. A gun business is just plain evil. And a Christian in the gun business is an enemy of the state, practically," Harrington said.

He recalled he was often characterized as an unenlightened barbarian. But he considered that ironic.

"I get death threats on a regular basis from the 'enlightened ones.' You know: 'kill yourself with your gun,' 'I hope somebody kills you.'"

Harrington said he loves being back in his home state of Texas where it's pro-gun, pro-freedom, and pro-business.

"News flash: the government doesn't create jobs. Barack Obama doesn't create jobs. I do," Harrington stated. "Guys like me do, and Texas gets that."

In just this century, Texas has created more than 1 million new jobs. California's lost more than 500,000. From 2004 to 2010, at leat 680,000 people moved from other states to Texas, a whopping 185,000 of them Californians.

A Lesson for America

Devore said America should learn from what's going on between the two states. 

"It better be the future of America," he stated, "because, frankly, I don't see how this country can continue to prosper unless it becomes more like Texas and less like California."

Freeman said she and her family see Texas as the true land of liberty.

"We came back to Texas for freedom," she said. "One word, simple: freedom."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.