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Repeal or Re-write Prop 13

Richard Abrams, professor emeritus of history | October 17, 2009

California voters have a long history of shooting themselves in the foot.  Prop 13 is one calamity, especially the provision that requires a 2/3 legislative vote to pass a budget.  (The tax provisions are obscenely unfair, but that’s a different issue.)  Term limits is a second crippling measure.  What ails California?  In a nut-shell, lack of political statemanship.  Term limits deprives Californians of experienced leaders, knowledgable about law making, some of whom might occasionally put public interest above self-serving personal goals, and skilled enough to parry the thrusts of special interest lobbyists.  What we have in Sacramento is a bunch of amateurs who are prey to the machinations of very experienced lobbyists who have no term limits, and who know that when their 2 to 8 year tenure in Sacramento expires they will be looking for private sector  jobs — and what better jobs will there be but those that serve the masters of the lobbyists.  Do the arithmetic.  To heal our badly wounded feet, we need leadership.  What ails California?  Again: lack of political statesmanship; leaders who are willing to take on the the repeal of Prop.13 and term limits.

Comments to “Repeal or Re-write Prop 13

  1. Tax, tax and more taxes that is the motto for California. If you think eliminating Prop 13 will lower your taxes, then I have bridge to sell you.

    Eliminating the 2/3 vote will allow the greedy politicians to go crazy on spending sprees with your money. Those of you who are buying million dollar homes and up are paying more then the person next door who purchased THEIR HOME UNDER PROP 13 MANY YEARS BACK…but HAVE YOU THOUGHT WHAT YOUR TAXES WOULD BE WITHOUT THE 1% CAP. Do the math and be happy you are under Prop 13, because it could and will become worse without Prop 13. If your home was purchased back in the ’80s for 30 thousand dollars and you still reside there, why is it worth more to you today? Think about that.

  2. Property taxes should be repealed altogether, otherwise you are just renting your home. If you don’t pay, or can’t afford to pay, the government will come in and take it. Lose a job, lose your home…

    The government has no title to your private property…legally, they shouldn’t be able to take it. There are many ways the government can raise revenue, and private property tax should not be one of them. If there is no commercial interest, there shouldn’t be a fee/tax. Taxing a person’s shelter seems corrupt, but what can one say? …all government and politicians are corrupt…One of these days the people may wake up…

  3. Prop. 13 is unfair in many ways, besides to newer homeowners. My neighbor inherited her house from her Dad, as well as his low tax bill. She pays $800 a year; I pay $4000. She acquired her home in 2011; I bought mine in 2000.

    I support lower-income Seniors keeping a low tax rate, but not for being able to pass their low tax rate to future generations, outside of a surviving spouse. Most Seniors I know live far better than I do on “fixed incomes,” and I have paid far more Social Security and property than any of them did.

  4. Proposition 13 was advertised as a way to keep seniors from being taxed out of their homes, but the true beneficiaries of Proposition 13 are the large corporations which keep their property indefinitely and so don’t get re-assessed at market rate as do private residences when they are sold. Proposition 13 needs to be modified so both residential and commercial property are reassessed at a rate closer to the CPI. Parcel taxes often have exceptions for hardship cases,and a modified Proposition 13 should also be able to provide for hardship cases.

  5. California has the largest tax base largest budget, yet still broke government is the problem, not the solution, be self suffient, self reliant. Businesses are leaving ca. Because of this kind of thinking. before wishing someone else pay more , ask yourself, or vollenteer to pay it yourself if it is such a good idea. Never expect someone else to pay for what YOU think is right.

  6. The only fault in Prop 13 is that it was set up for a maximum of 1% annual increase; if it was setup to increase to match the consumer price index (CPI) (~3%) then all the issues would go away.

    The cost of maintenance of streets and other services should only increase by CPI – anything higher is folly anyway. Everyone expects CPI increases, and so Social Security and other revenue streams are built to match this – thus no one should be thrown out of their homes, and the base fees increase to meet the natural cost increase.

    Yes, market values may skyrocket and plummet, and of course the legislature will overcommit during the skyrocket years. But if the base amount is increased only on CPI then fairness to those who bought years ago and on fixed income will be covered as will their fair share of maintenance.

    No, this won’t solve the folly of overspending, but then i don’t think property values should be the basis of a long-term social welfare program anyway!!!

  7. I’ll tell you how a repeal of Prop 13 will hurt my neighbor: it won’t not a bit, not even a second thought.

    Lets see, I drive a 12-yr old Acura ($23.5K new) with 160k miles, they drive a 2006 Mercedes Benz S500 (new $95K *FYI cost more than they paid for the house).

    Prop 13 is hurting California, we’re not asking to price out elderly, we’re asking for fair play. Does the gas station charge locals 45 cents/gallon, no that’s crazy dumb and unfair. This is the same, charging me $10.8K and this one case $2.5K (would be lower be he put on an addition).

    Prop 13 was needed in the late 70s and early 80s, it’s not needed now.

  8. The defenses of prop 13 on this post are laughable. Check out your property tax bill compared to your neighbors on and then tell me that tax system is fair. I pay $8000 in taxes for a home that is smaller than my neighbor who pays $1400. Some of our tax bill is parcel taxes which means that the overall tax to my neighbor is exponentially lower than mine. Defending that inequity may be the worst form of class warfare that this country has ever seen.

  9. The idea that seniors will be hurt by a Prop 13 overhaul is ridiculous. If we changed the system so that primary residences fell under prop 13 and everyone else did not, how do seniors get hurt by that?

    Does anyone know of a serious organization working to change this ridiculous law?

    • Rents will go through the roof if you want to just include primary residences. Many people own income properties, apartments, rental homes. Property taxes are a cost that is passed on in rent. It’s only ridiculous to those that haven’t a clue as to all the aspects it hits.

  10. Without Prop 13 retired people would be forced out of their homes. That is the main reason why it passed. The recent mortgage meltdown has resulted in less property tax revenue, but this is not the fault of Prop 13. It is the fault of the mortgage meltdown caused by greedy banks and wall street shysters. I don’t want to pay for the mistakes made by banks and wall street via property taxes as they would just continue to rise ever upward and eventually force me out. If it were put on the ballot, however, i would vote for a temporary extension of the tax cuts; this would be more affordable than higher taxes on my home and also would not be permanent. However, I doubt if the majority of my fellow voters would go along with the extensions. I wish we could at least get the chance to see, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. If Prop 13 ever gets repealed my only reason for staying in California would be gone.

    • oops I meant a temporary extensions of the tax increase (the ones Brown has proposed)… sorry, you should have an edit button 🙂

  11. Home ownership has been the american dream for ever. Pitting the have nots aganinst the haves in California is not the answer to our financial woes. I represent middle class america. I have worked, risked, invested, and saved for my retirement since I was 15 years old. Now to be told I will not be able to retire in my home because the easy answer to Californias financial troubles is to double or triple property taxes is very disturbing. The legislators in California have not been financially responsible for decades! And they refuse to talk about the true issues of where funds could be reduced in this state. Why, because it is political suicide! Entitlement programs are out of control, generation after generation have learned how to live off of entitlement programs. It is easy to be generous with other peoples money when you are young and do not pay taxes yet. It is easy to vote for repeal of Prop 13 when you chose not to pursue an education to improve your life, and it is really easy when the goverment makes it possible for you to not accept responsibility for how many children you chose to have. This state, and this country does not need more goverment intervention in our lives. We need to start teaching PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AGAIN!!

  12. You are all naive to think that if we raise our property taxes services will be better….they will just waste the money. They need to live within their means…..also the over 50 crowd will be really hurt by any increase. It’s also annoying to think that many think we are so entitled to all these services….are we all living in a all inclusive resort. Come on now.

    It’s easy to be against something when it doesn’t hurt yourself personally. If a seniors home that they bought in the 80s or 90s were to be taxed at the market value….those people taxes would triple….and many couldn’t pay the taxes. Other didn’t move because of the tax advantages.

    To change the game now on the people who have planned on this tax structure just wouldn’t be right.

    Leave it alone!!!

    • Bingo. One thing the live never finally grasp is that you can only drain us so much until we die or run away (at least to another state). Jiminy Christmas, can you imagine what’s going to happen to your (and my) property values overnight if this is repealed. I don’t know about you, but I’ll rent…..

  13. Prop 13 – in so far as it restricts property tax – was the result of people’s desperation to keep their homes in the face of a miserable failure by government to restrain its grab for revenue. It has been a blessing for many, and by itself has done little harm. It has not been an obstacle to collecting revenue. If it is blamed for that, it should have been given credit for California’s last boom, in the 1990s.
    What ails California is too many poor, too many people on an overly generous public payroll, an excessive population that strains the carrying capacity of the land, and, for too many years, an incompetent legislature.
    Read David Doerr’s California’s Tax Machine. Listen to the web cast Proposition 13 at 30: The Political, Economic and Fiscal Impacts, sponsored by Sponsored by the Institute of Governmental Studies, the UC San Diego Department of Sociology, and held at UC Berkeley, in the Lipman Room, 8th Floor, Barrows Hall.

  14. Prop 13 was put in place to stop one political group from dominating. Instead, it has stuck Sacramento in one place. Repeal it, yes.

  15. You are absolutely – correct, our generation was sold a bill-of-goods and now we must admit our mistake and Repeal Prop 13. ‘We'{everyone over the age of 50} have been riding the gravy train, long enough.

    If you ( everyone under the age of 50) don’t believe, Prop 13 makes a difference, please go visit other states and cities, see how clean their streets are, how their schools still have music & art programs; it is your future that is at stake!

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