The truth is that California spends all its money on handouts for other states ...
This. California gives on the order of $60 billion more every year to the federal government than they get back, most of which goes to prop up the red states' failing economies that are broken largely because of Republican economic mismanagement. The reason California pays so much more in taxes is that the overwhelming majority of Californians make significantly more money than the national average for their particular field. The economy is in much better shape than most other states, in part because of high tech, in part because of the music and movie industries in L.A., and in part because the varieties of produce that California grows are in high demand relative to production levels.
But more than that, California has benefitted immensely from Democratic governments throwing huge amounts of money into higher education back in the 1970s, all of which cranked up taxes, but resulted in a more educated population that was better able to weather the economic changes brought by a post-industrial world. What I don't understand is how anybody still believes that Republican economic policies work in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, both at the state level and at the federal level. The notion that high taxes stifle the economy is a fiction. If it were true, California would be bankrupt and Florida would be extremely wealthy. Instead, the tech industry has actively migrated from Florida to California over the past twenty years or so, because the higher standard of living resulting from those higher taxes more than makes up for the cost of the higher taxes.
If California had that $60 billion per year back, we could give a free UC education to every California high school graduate. If we did that, the rest of the country would never catch up. In fifty years, even the eastern seaboard would be third world by comparison. And for our generosity in giving up that huge advantage to support our red state brethren, we get only a quarter as many electors per capita as Wyoming. The electoral college is thus fundamentally biased in favor of Republicans. The only reason Democrats ever win is because the Republicans are so incredibly bad at governing that Democrats overcome herculean odds stacked against them. Were the electoral college actually fair, no Republican would ever win a presidential election, nor (because representative count is tied to delegate count) would they ever hold the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, or even come close. Let that sink in for a moment.