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Don’t gut Prop. 13


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.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

3 responses to “Don’t gut Prop. 13”

  1. James Rowten says:

    Well done David. This election more than ever is a critical one for not just this nation but, California and you captured why succinctly in this article.
    JR

  2. Virginia Drake says:

    The writer of this opinion undoubtedly has ties to a piece of commercial property. Our government has finally realized that commercial property has been getting a free ride for too many years and is not carrying their share of the load. When a homeowner buys a new piece of property the taxes on that property automatically rise. Not so with commercial and industrial property owners.

    So, how come? Because they hired expensive lobbyists to shelter their clients.

    Homeowners are aggrieved. Schools and other government-funded segments need these funds. Please don’t listen to those who find conspiracies where there are none. Simple – each pays its own share.

    • SoCal Baker says:

      As someone that owns a commercial property I can tell you that the property tax was readjusted to the current market rate when we bought it, so your statement is just wrong. What you may be referring to is the proportionality rule, what percentage of ownership changes hands to trigger a reassessment and this is also the case for residential property as well, so both types of property are treated the same.

      How ever a tax break, passed in 1986, lets parents transfer a primary residence of any value, plus a generous amount of other property, to their children without it being reassessed at market value for property tax purposes, this has caused a large number of houses being turned into rentals and not being reassessed even though they are really being changed from residential to commercial, meaning commercial enterprise, which the law was never intended to do.

      I think we need some reform, especial when any property changes hands, but Prop 15 is really a Trojan Horse to eventually get rid of Prop 13

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