California may never secede, or divide into different states, but it has effectively split into entities that could not be more different. On one side is the much-celebrated, post-industrial, coastal California, beneficiary of both the Tech Boom 2.0 and a relentlessly inflating property market. The other California, located in the state’s interior, is still tied to basic industries like homebuilding, manufacturing, energy and agriculture. It is populated largely by working- and middle-class people who, overall, earn roughly half that of those on the coast.
Over the past decade or two, interior California has lost virtually all influence, as Silicon Valley and Bay Area progressives have come to dominate both state politics and state policy. “We don’t have seats at the table,” laments Richard Chapman, president and CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation. “We are a flyover state within a state.”
Virtually all the polices now embraced by Sacramento — from water and energy regulations to the embrace of sanctuary status and a $15-an-hour minimum wage — come right out of San Francisco central casting. Little consideration is given to the needs of the interior, and little respect is given to their economies.This past week, the governor and legislature made things much worse by muscling through a huge increase in the gasoline tax. Such consumption taxes are always regressive, and this one will have an especially deep impact in inland areas, where drive times are long and mass-transit options are scarce.