They're Coming for Prop. 13

January 9, 2011 - By admin

John Seiler:

You know it would happen. They’re coming for Prop. 13, the 1978 tax-cut measure.

Having overspent for decades, the California government of parasites has run up a $28 billion deficit. Jerry Brown’s new budget is expected to include inadequate cuts and tax increases. But it still won’t be enough.

So it’s not surprising that the Toilet Paper of Record, as Gerald Celente calls the New York Times, is butting into California business with an article plumping for getting rid of Prop. 13:

As much as Proposition 13 signaled a national revolt against taxes that reverberates to this day, its actual legacy in California — not just the proposition itself, but the way Mr. Brown and the Legislature responded to it — has emerged as a major obstacle to the new governor as he confronts what is probably the worst fiscal crisis in this state’s history.

And there’s a quote from L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has mismanaged his city’s finances into near bankruptcy:

The Proposition 13 debate needs to happen; we’ve just got to be honest. At a time of a financial crisis as great as any the state has faced in modern times, the time is now to address the inequity of Prop 13 that allows large corporate interests to get a windfall meant for homeowners. We are not funding government. We are just decimating government and the services it provides.

He’s talking about the so-called “split roll,” in which Prop. 13 would remain for housing, but not for commercial real estate, which would see its taxes rise sharply. But other states that have done that have ended up with complex property tax codes filled with special-interest loopholes that only make sense to expensive tax lawyers.

The fight to defend Prop. 13 must begin now.

Here’s a TV news item from 1978, just before the election, featuring Howard Jarvis, who spearheaded Prop. 13:

Jan. 9, 2011

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  1. GoneWithTheWind says:

    I lived in California when prop 13 was passed. If you did not own a home then you have no idea how bad it was getting. People were losing their homes to the tax collector and the government tax collectors were quite happy to take them. The upward spiral of taxes seemed likely to destroy the state. But prop 13 had a bad flaw. It “froze” the tax of someone who owned a home and allowed increases on new owners. This double standard doomed it to divide the people. It should have been an across the board limit.

    Another point, immediately after passing the counties and cities began punishing the people. Libraries cut hours and schools layed off (non-union) employees. The schools sent home flyers telling parents to expect bad things from the new austerity. And of course they had exactly as much money to spend as the previous year. The vested interests in government have been chipping away at prop 13 since it was passed and it was inevitable they would win. Lets face it they want your money and they intend to take it…

  2. ggswede says:

    I hate to say it,Meg was Right !

  3. Wayne Martin says:

    The issue of “overspending” is, of course, the main issue–but how to explain it to the voters seems to elude those who believe in smaller government, and accountable use of public money.

    For instance, with the exception of 1979 (if memory serves), the revenues of the State have increased. Why? Because “government” at every level created new fees/fines and other revenue sources. So, why the hysteria over Prop.13?

    Prop.13 did restrict a certain amount of revenue associated with property-based taxes. It did restrict the ability of local government to raise taxes at will, as was the case back in the early 1970s. It put a barrier between special interests (increasingly labor unions and developers) from running roughshod over people of limited means–particularly older people on fixed incomes.

    The flaws of Prop.13, should be considered for “fixed”, no doubt. What’s needed is a serious modeling of the property-tax base in California, with the goal of determining adjustments to the tax rates, and impact of tax generation on commercial property.

    For instance, what would be the increase in tax generation if the 1% tax rate were adjusted up to 1.1%? Or what would be the impact of requiring some sort of reassessment of commercial property every 20 years, if it has not changed hands in the last 20 years?

    With companies like DataQuick having all of the taxable property in digital form, it should not be that hard for a group to acquire this data, and do this modeling. It would be better to have some sense of how changes would ripple through our economy, and impact older residents, as well as younger ones.

    At some point in the not-too-distant future, most of the people who voted for Prop.13 will have passed on, and there is no reason not to rethink the issues associated with tax generation associated with property ownership.

  4. whitneymuse says:

    Last month I paid my dues to the Howard Jarvis Association; for the first time after the numb (R)s we had made such a poor showing in the electoral in November in California…what were they thinking?

    I even contributed to Firorina’s and Meg’s campaigns because they said they would protect our freedoms; well folks it’s time to armor up.

  5. maria says:

    whoever thinks that all the people that voted for Proposition 13 need to think again. before the proposition I saw one of my best neighbors lose their home because they were not able to pay their very high property taxes. there are many people still alive and still own homes becuase of proposition 13.. another thing is the spending problem of the state and local governments should not be used to pay the debts these deparments ran up over the last 40 plus years.. If one wants to see most of the wealth of ca which provides jobs and pays property taxes for the benefit of strangers that they will never meet..then this is what will happen if proposition 13 is taken down. wake up idiot and see your jobs shifted to another state.

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Joseph Perkins
Joseph Perkins, now assistant editor of the Orange County Register Opinion Pages, started his career as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. After serving on the White House Staff of former Vice President Dan Quayle he wrote for the San Diego Union-Tribune where he authored a nationally-syndicated column. Before writing for, Mr. Perkins was also Business Editor for San Diego Magazine.
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Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.
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John Seiler
John Seiler has been writing about California for 25 years. That includes 22 years as an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and two years for, where he is managing editor. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Hillsdale College. He was a Russian linguist in U.S. Army military intelligence from 1978 to 1982. He was an editor and writer for Phillips Publishing Company from 1983 to 1986. He has written for Policy Review, Chronicles,, Flash Report and numerous other publications. His email:

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