Governor Gavin Newsom’s latest reproductive healthcare package proposal, aimed at bringing in businesses and residents from states with tough abortion and LGBT laws, has been leading many former Californians to continue to rethink moving outside the state but has not proved to be the factor to bring most back.
According to Newsom’s proposal, he wants to bolster California’s health care infrastructure by a further $125 million to help prepare for a large number of people coming to the states to receive abortions, as well as entice business to a state that offers that kind of access following a reversal of Roe v. Wade. Of that $125 million, $40 million alone would go towards grants for reproductive health care providers to offset the cost of providing care to low- and moderate-income individuals who do not have health care coverage for abortion care services.
“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women – not just those in California – know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” said Governor Newsom earlier this week. “We’re expanding access to these critical services, welcoming businesses and their employees fleeing anti-abortion states, and reaffirming our commitment to continuing to work closely with the Legislature and reproductive rights stakeholders to further solidify California’s leadership on abortion rights.”
Despite the incentives, many who moved out of California said to the Globe on Friday that they’ll need more than that to either move back or move their business back to the state.
Abortion incentives fall short for many
“This is a tough call,” explained Shelby Pearson, a Los Angeles native who moved to Austin in 2015. “On one hand, the tax situation out here is so much better. Plus, houses have yards and we don’t have to worry about drought or wildfires really. Or earthquakes.”
“On the other hand, Texas is quickly taking away a lot of rights, with the big one being abortion. For many, like my wife, that does not sit with them well at all. And the heat is awful out here and when winter hits, lately it’s been doing so enough to knock out the power grid and people freeze to death. Tit for tat with wildfires I guess.”
“But we came to Texas with the hope of turning it blue, or at least more purple. This abortion bill, plus other things, are making clear that that will not happen. Moving back to California is looking like a better option each day not just for me but for many people who moved out here. This probably seems crazy to many there, and honestly I would have thought the same a few years ago. But this Texas dream is quickly dying. At least with California you know what they’re about.”
Another Texan writing to the Globe agreed, but in a more cautious way.
“I’m not angry at Texas, just disappointed,” said Javi Moreno, a Floridian who moved to California in 2012, then moved to Houston in 2019, to the Globe. “Florida was great, it’s home, but my wife had to move out for work. And then California, my favorite state by far, but San Francisco went from being a tech wonderland to where it is today, filled with crime and high prices. We were priced out. We moved to Fremont then even further away, but then Texas became available. It was good for a few years, we love the taxes here, but then all of these laws started coming down.”
“A lot of my wife’s clients are strong on the abortion issue, and they have all given notice to move, so now we’re looking to move out again. Tennessee was our number one spot, but then we saw where they fell on that issue. So now we’re looking either at Arizona, Nevada, or back to California. And with their water issues and other things going on, this isn’t a decision made lightly. It’s really that bad in Texas for us and a lot of people right now.”
Others adore Texas, Florida, and other top states for those moving from California, and even with the law changes, are trying to stay put.
“Disney shifted a bunch of people out here and I was one of them,” added a Californian-turned-Floridian who wished to remain anonymous. “And, besides for the humidity, it’s been great. The house we own would go for millions if it was in California.
“Things were fine until only recently. Disney and [Florida Governor Ron] DeSantis have been sniping at each other, the with Governor trying to remove the special district Disney World here is in. It didn’t work, but a lot of us are on edge. We’re looking at what Florida is doing by limiting LGBT rights and abortion access. We’re looking at a state we thought was going one way start to go the other. But we still want to stay. Going back to California wouldn’t be defeat, but we’d be back to different kinds of restrictions like for water and other things.”
Pearson and Moreno also own their own businesses, with both saying that while Newsom’s incentives seem nice, they would need to see a major tax reduction if they were to move back to California, or at least have it be part of their decision.
“Yeah, it’s not doing it for me,” continues Moreno. “It seems that Newsom is just trying to use this all to his advantage anyway. You want people back? Start by slashing taxes and actually make a good business environment. To start.”
As of Friday, the California legislature has yet to either agree or counter Newsom’s proposal. A new state budget is due at the end of June.