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P. 91

 Member Update
PROPOSITION 13 IS STILL THIRD
R2AIL OF CALIFORNIA POLITICS
By Jon Coupal, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
020 was supposed to be the year a $12 billion property tax increase on businesses – the year when Proposition 13’s would translate into a higher cost of living. Moreover, enemies finally inflicted a near fatal homeowners were on to progressives’ long-term wound on the iconic property tax agenda of coming after them next. They took to heart reduction initiative adopted by voters Benjamin Franklin’s admonition that “we either hang more than 40 years ago. As of this together or hang separately” and so stood shoulder writing it appears that they have to shoulder with the business community against this come up short. assault.
Since 1978, tax-and-spend interests – mostly public Second, backers of Proposition 15 apparently had
sector labor organizations – have chafed under Proposition 13’s one percent limit on the property tax rate and the two percent limit on annual increases in assessed valuation. But even the most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll revealed that at least 60 percent of Californians viewed Proposition 13 as “mostly a good thing.” That level of support for Proposition 13 is remarkable given California’s increasing embrace of other progressive policies. This is now a deep blue state with Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the legislature and conservative statewide office holders are nowhere to be found. To say this is no longer the California of Ronald Reagan is an understatement.
Knowing that Proposition 13 retained high levels of support, especially among homeowners fearful of being taxed out of their homes, progressives thought they could repeal Proposition 13 incrementally. So, it made sense that they would first target those evil corporations like Chevron and Disney. (Who knew Mickey Mouse was so dangerous?)
But targeting what they believed were unpopular businesses was just one of their perceived paths to victory. They also projected that the 2020 general election would have much higher turnout than other elections because of the divisive presidential contest. Add to that a virtually endless supply of campaign cash and a complicit Attorney General who gave them a highly favorable ballot label that didn’t mention “tax increase,” and they assumed that the first step in taking down Proposition 13 was in the bag.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the polls. First, homeowners were rightfully concerned that
not done all their homework given that they hadn’t considered the damage “split roll” would inflict on all businesses, not just large corporations. Most small businesses rent their property under the terms of a “triple net lease” leaving them on the hook for all the tax hikes imposed on their landlords.
Third, opposition to split roll came from places proponents should have anticipated but did not. While Proposition 15 exempted farmland, much of agricultural production relies on commercial infrastructure. Think of dairies and wineries. And, in a rare move, the normally non-political California Assessors Association opposed Proposition 15 because of its absurd complexity and implementation costs.
Fourth, voters generally, not just homeowners, believe that government wastes too much money to be given any more without significant reforms. This is not a partisan perception. Voters even in heavily Democratic jurisdictions have been rejecting tax and bond proposals at higher rates than in the past.
Finally, there is the name itself: Proposition 13. Like it or not, Proposition 13 has almost mythical powers against those who would assail it. And the apparent defeat of the split roll proposal is only the most recent example of special interests getting burned by the “third rail” of California politics.
 Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and not necessarily those of the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles. This article is being reprinted with permission from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association and the author.
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