Random political entry, prolly boring for most.

So I’m super against Prop 13. I’m not saying I know everything about it, maybe I’m wrong, just that of what I know, I’m against.

So it was this prop that passed in CA in 1978. At that time property tax rates were going crazy and people were being forced to sell their homes. So there was a taxpayer revolt in the form of this prop, which limited property tax rates (in terms of last valuation), limited the amount taxes on a particular property could be raised from year to year, and required a 2/3 vote for certain taxes.

The property tax rate problem was a real one, but this I think was the wrong solution. What happened is that, starved of property tax revenue, the state and local communities had to look to other creative ways of getting money. And other things. In a nutshell, the level of services and other things in CA did terribly. Everything. Notably, our education system went from being one of the best in the country to one of the worst. Prop 13 wasn’t the only reason for this, but I think it’s fair to say it was a major contributing factor. I dunno, maybe Wong can rebut.

Anyway, the effects of it are rearing their ugly heads even today. One reason CA’s budget crisis is so much more severe than other states is because the state’s tax revenue is less based on dependable property taxes and more on variable sources like sales taxes, stuff like that. So economic cycles hit CA’s budget more acutely. So now we’re in an awful situation with a massive shortfall.

It’s compounded by the fact that the state budget requires a 2/3 vote to pass. I actually have no idea whether this is related to Prop 13 at all, probably not. But this is bad also. Because of it, you almost always get impasses over the budget. It’s ridiculous this year, the budget situation, and how it’s at a standstill, but it’s nothing new – pretty much every year the budget comes down to the wire before being passed, often going late. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Not to mention how Prop 13 gives communities no incentive to build low cost housing.

So anyway, Prop 13 has been terrible for the state, I think. I’m extremely anti. What gets my goat is that every defense for it essentially centers on, well, it was good for me. I.e. long termers who were able to keep their house. To reflect on 25 years of Prop 13, the Merc has been doing a series of articles on the effects of it. They stop short of making a judgment on whether it was good or bad but it’s basically impossible to read about the effects and not be against it. Anyway, after every article, you get letters from people saying, thanks to Prop 13, I kept my house. Therefore, I’m in favor of it.

That kind of selfishness and short-sightedness makes me angry. Congrats on keeping your house. The schools suck, our state government constantly goes through crises, all government services on every level have dropped. But hey, you have your house. Bully for you. I dunno, I’m against. But maybe I’m wrong, Wong prolly knows better.

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