New attack on Prop. 13; may pass Assembly today

June 14, 2013

By Katy Grimes


An Assembly Constitutional Amendment attacking Proposition 13 is expected to be heard in the Assembly today, and some are saying it may even be passed by the Assembly.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association learned only yesterday that Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, was moved out of the Assembly Local Government Committee and taken up without committee hearings or public vetting, and moved directly to the Assembly Floor today along with the other budget bills.

I had a chance today between floor sessions to talk with David Wolfe, Legislative Director for the HJTA, about ACA 8.

HJTA is a non-profit association “dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights, including the right to limited taxation, the right to vote on tax increases and the right of economical, equitable and efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” according to their website.

While a two-thirds vote is required to pass ACA 8 because it amends the Constitution, there are enough Democrats in the Assembly to pass the bill.

“This represents a direct attack on Prop. 13 because it lowers the two-thirds vote to 55% to fund various infrastructure projects,” Wolfe, told me.

“This sets up an unexpected opportunity to tarnish the Governor’s budget,” Wolfe explained. “We can now make the case that instead of demonstrating restraint, Democrats are showing their true colors. All they’ve ever really wanted to do with their supermajority is raise your property taxes.”

According to Wolfe, ACA 8 is a direct attack on Proposition 13 because it undermines the one percent property tax cap. Any bonds or special taxes approved by voters are added onto property tax bills ‘below the line’ and are separate from Prop. 13’s stable one percent threshold.

This is why Californians commonly pay 1.2 or 1.3 percent on your property tax bill. Lowering the two-thirds threshold would mean this amount will go even higher.

“For evidence of what happens when the threshold is lowered, look to Proposition 39 school bonds,” Wolfe said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars of bonds have been approved across California in the last 12 years that would not have occurred with a two-thirds vote.”

Prop. 39 was passed in 2000, specifically to reduce the threshold required to pass local California school district bond issues from a 2/3rds supermajority vote to a 55 percent supermajority vote. “Prior to the passage of Proposition 39, about 60% of local school bond ballot questions succeeded in getting the previously required 2/3rds vote. In the wake of its passage, about 75% of local school districts are passing with the 55% requirement,” according to Ballotpedia.

Even with Prop. 13, California is only 14th in combined state-local per capita property tax payments according to the Tax Foundation. “If ACA 8 clears the Legislature and is approved on the statewide ballot, this will move property taxes closer to the number one rank we already hold in other broad-based tax categories like income taxes, sales taxes, and gas taxes,” Wolfe said. “Only property owners will pay for these bonds over 30 years but everybody gets to vote on them, making the two-thirds vote of crucial importance.”

 Public infrastructure projects’ snowball effect

The language of “public improvements” listed in ACA 8 is incredibly broad. It does not just target public safety infrastructure facilities but targets streets and roads, sidewalks, transit systems, highways, water and sewer systems, parks and the furnishing and equipping of buildings,Wolfe explained. “The ‘life-cycle cost’ on this bond debt would be heinous,” Wolfe said.

“For those who say ‘Ah, let the people decide’ well, they have,” Wolfe added. “According to polls released this month, 62 percent of voters still support Prop. 13.”

“A recently released Field Poll showed well less then 50 percent of voters supported a change to lower the two-thirds vote threshold for special taxes under any circumstance.”

If ACA 8 passes, it will be unprecedented, Wolfe said.


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  1. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 14 June, 2013, 16:42

    The same poll showed that a majority of taxpayers favor a split roll for Prop. 13, so that large corporations pay their fair share of property taxes. Somehow Mr. Wolfe neglected to mention that. LOL.

    Reply this comment
  2. Wayne White
    Wayne White 14 June, 2013, 21:21

    Of course polls show that folks want to tax corporations. That’s because they don’t realize that every tax that they pay is passed on to the consumer! You can’t tax corporations. Any corporate tax results in the consumer being saddled with higher prices. I love how the tax and spend crowd always uses that “fair share” to justify tax increases. Oh well, businesses and private citizens are already leaving California like rats on a sinking ship anyway. If California is to be saved it will be when all legislators realize that we need to COMPETE with other states for business, both on taxes and on restrictions.

    Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 14 June, 2013, 22:02

    What a miserable site……coastal loon taxers vs skinflint trailer park doomers.

    Reply this comment
  4. taxusless
    taxusless 15 June, 2013, 05:57

    I worked with Howard and Paul on prop 13 and we only did what the people wanted. Jerry Brown and his buddies are doing everything they can to get back at us since he was opposed to us in 1978 when the public was showing tremendous support for it! He will dismantle it piece by piece while the nieve liberals will champion him for ballancing the budget because they will still receive their 1% of assesed value on their property taxes: (until he can find a way to take that away! Thes neophites don’t realiz the tremendous gift we gave to them when we passed this legislaion in 1978! The politicians call sill tax them all they want, and always could, we just gave the property owners a voice in the process to help them control spending? What is so evil about that????

    Reply this comment
  5. Donkey
    Donkey 15 June, 2013, 17:50

    Queeg, your other moniker was mooch, right? 🙂

    Reply this comment
  6. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 16 June, 2013, 10:03

    Taxusless (or is it actually Taxuseless?),just wondering if you said anything back in the day about how Prop. 13 would allow large corporations to pay the same tax rate as my grandmother? That was NOT what the people wanted then, and it sure isn’t what they want now. If the people knew back then that Prop. 13 was not just about helping residential homeowners, the results might have been different.

    Reply this comment
  7. Maureen
    Maureen 16 June, 2013, 14:15

    I hear a lot of people that want a split roll for taxes. Let me tell you what will happen to me as a non corporation commercial property owner who makes very little off renting my property (2.5 acres industrial property for horticultural purposes).
    My taxes will go up from $8,000/year to $30,000/year. Either my renters pay the difference (2 small businesses) or I loose my property to the state–as I don’t make enough money off rent to cover the additional taxes. Not everybody is Disneyland that will just raise the ticket prices another $10 per person to cover the extra tax.
    Small businesses will be devastated & most of the commercial property owners & renters are small business. Last I heard only 20% were large business but I am not sure of that figure.

    Reply this comment
  8. Donkey
    Donkey 16 June, 2013, 18:11

    Mehlman, stop with your inderect lies! The informed people on this blog know that a tax increase passed on to a corporate land owner is then passed on to the purchaserof their product or service. Lower property taxes are good for all citizens, with the exception of the RAGWUS feeders, you know, the government parasites that are only out for themselves!! :

    Reply this comment
  9. Queeg
    Queeg 16 June, 2013, 21:12

    Touchee Donkey…..did you wake up wearing a white coat?

    We understand!

    Reply this comment
  10. Bob
    Bob 22 April, 2015, 17:09

    It seeems that the practice of assigning school bonds and special assessments “below the line” is already being done in Ventura County. In a recent RE inquiry I got a copy of a seller’s 2014 tax bill and noted that all the school bonds and special assessments were being charged the property owner in addition to the 1% under Prop13. I realized this was not proper because I have paid property taxes in CA since before Howard Jarvis in San Dielgo County. That county itemizes the school bonds correctly showing the school bonds are paid as a consequence of the 1% tax. Not so for Ventura County..

    The same tax bill on the Oxnard parcel showed a total tax bill of over $12,000 annually on current assessed value of about 1.2M.
    Nothing obviously wrong there until one reviews the property tax history of ownership showing the same owner currently holding the property has held it since 1994. I bet he did not buy the property for 1.2m in 1994. Was there a discrete and non-conforming re-assessment of property in Ventura causing his property tax bill to be so high, or is there an alternate explanation? Can’t wait to the comments on this one.

    Reply this comment

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