It wasn't your usual legislative hearing. A group of largely Republican California lawmakers and Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled here last week to hear from businesses that have left their state to set up shop in Texas.
"We came to learn why they would pick up their roots and move in order to grow their businesses," says GOP Assemblyman Dan Logue, who organized the trip. "Why does Chief Executive magazine rate California the worst state for job and business growth and Texas the best state?"
The contrast is undeniable. Texas has added 165,000 jobs during the last three years while California has lost 1.2 million. California's jobless rate is 12% compared to 8% in Texas.
"I don't see this as a partisan issue," Mr. Newsom told reporters before the group met with Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry. The former San Francisco mayor has many philosophical disagreements with Mr. Perry, but he admitted he was "sick and tired" of hearing about the governor's success luring businesses to Texas.
California, by contrast, seems to constantly lose focus. Several Democrats who agreed to go on the Texas trip were pressured by public-employee unions to drop out—and many did. And just as Texas business leaders were testifying about how the state's tort reforms had improved job creation, word came of California's latest priority: On April 14, the state senate passed a bill mandating that all public school children learn the history of disabled and gay Americans.
One speaker from California shook his head in wonder: "You can have the most liberated lifestyle on the planet, but if you can't afford to put gas in your car or a roof over your head it's somewhat limited."