The immense success of the tech firms based in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area has made California the fifth-largest economy in the world. The regions culture of innovation has created vast amounts of new wealth and hundreds of thousands of jobs. But instead of welcoming this success, some lawmakers in the cities that are home to Apple and Google Cupertino and Mountain View, respectively want to tax it, following the lead of the Seattle City Council, which recently imposed a per-worker fee of $275 on Amazon and other big employers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that some city officials now want the tech giants to ease problems tied to rapid growth, namely housing shortages and inadequate local transportation failings that are more fairly blamed on local and state lawmakers poor decisions. These local officials seem to believe that future tech growth is so inevitable that a little less wont lead to big problems. We dont want to force them out of town, but the growth has been so impactful, it wouldnt hurt if it slowed down, Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel told the Journal.
This may appeal to populists, but it should worry everyone else. California is subject to constant poaching from other states and nations hoping to lure industries away. This economic threat is belittled by people who say that most CEOs will choose the charms of the Golden State over lower taxes and lighter regulation elsewhere. Will they? Will that still be true it tech giants are singled out for hefty additional taxes by cities that take them for granted? Thats a risky experiment that Cupertino and Mountain View may soon undertake and that all Californians could eventually come to regret.