Why? Because you can never pay too much in taxes. That seems to be the slogan of the California legislature.
Way back in the 1970s the people of California, led by Howard Jarvis rose up en masse and voted for Prop. 13. It was a constitutional amendment, which made it hard, if not impossible for the legislature to fiddle with its wording later on.
This revolutionary idea protected taxpayers by limiting how much property taxes could be raised. It requires a two/thirds vote to raise any taxes. This is certainly fair when it comes to property taxes because half of the people voting don’t own property and shouldn’t be able to raise other peoples’ taxes without a little effort.
People forget what a body blow it was to California officials like Governor Jerry Brown (yeah, we’ve had to put up with him that long) who did everything but stand on their heads to try to persuade voters that Prop. 13 would ruin the state. They didn’t listen and the state, wonder of wonders, survived. And flourished!
But California has changed drastically since the 1970s. Take the word of someone who was born here and has seen it change from a bastion of conservativism, the home of Ronald Reagan, to the slough of despond, the equal of Massachusetts or New York in terms of liberal schemes to spend money and force us all into a prison of wokeness and political correctness.
But the worst is the outrageous spending spree that Sacramento has embarked upon because it has been able to keep the Republicans to below one third of the votes in either chamber. It requires a two-thirds majority to pass any measure that impacts the budget. As long as Republicans were able to hang on by their fingernails, they were able to protect Prop. 13.
So it was inevitable that once they were reduced to an impotent minority, the final assault would begin to get rid of Proposition 13, which has protected property owners from the ravishments of government for more than 40 years. Prop. 15 is the first effort to dismantle Prop. 13.
It is insidious in how it does it. Instead of just trying to repeal Prop. 13, it repeals its protections for “commercial” and “industrial” property taxes. It leaves alone the taxes of mom and pop and grandma and grandpa—until another day.
So all those evil “corporations,” which includes just about every Main Street business you see up and down the neighborhood, will see their property taxes rise dramatically once this passes. Which it will almost certainly do because we no longer have a population sensitized to raising taxes—especially when it’s on other people.
If you are a retired person sitting there thinking that they won’t eventually come after your property taxes, think again. If Prop. 15 passes it won’t be long before the final assault begins on the rest of Prop. 13.
They do it through the rather clever way of labeling propositions so that they don’t really say what they are doing. Instead of labeling it as a partial repeal of Prop. 13, the title is: “California Proposition 15, Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative.” Who could feel threatened by that? You might as well call it the “Mom and Apple Pie,” amendment.
No doubt the money will be used for worthy causes. The money always is used for worthy causes. But the thing is: it’s your money.
So be very, very careful about tearing away the only thing left that protects your property tax from looting. Don’t vote to gut Prop. 13.