California’s Tax-Limiting Prop. 13 Survives Yet Another Attack
Proposition 15’s attempt to undermine California Proposition 13’s property tax protections for businesses through a split roll has apparently narrowly failed. But one thing I find striking is that, even after the fact, the same false claims—or fake news—against Prop. 13 continue to be repeated. As a November 12 Los Angeles Times editorial put it, “It is not an overstatement to draw a straight line from Proposition 13 and related anti-tax measures to California’s crumbling roads, struggling schools and reduced social service programs,” because it starved government of revenue.
Soon after Prop. 13 passed in 1978 with 64.8 percent of the votes cast, people started blaming it for every state and local fiscal pinch, every citizen complaint, and every government “good deed” left undone. Whatever the problem, Prop. 13 allegedly caused it. So the LA Times has just hopped once more on a long-running bandwagon.
I have read attacks on Prop. 13 for unsolved kidnappings, murders and car thefts, library and education cutbacks, insufficient teacher pay, poor school performance, pothole problems, fee hikes, increased racial and demographic tensions, too much commercial development, increased road congestion and pollution, ad infinitum. However, those attacks have always hinged on the premise that Prop. 13 to this day has decimated state and local government funding. But that premise has long been false.
The most commonly
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