It is fitting that on Tax Day, April 15th, those who seek to destroy Proposition 13 have now revealed their intentions.
We already knew about all the bills currently pending in the California Legislature that would weaken Proposition 13, either by lowering the two-thirds vote for most local taxes or by taking away Proposition 13’s protections for business owners. Businesses – large and small – have benefited in the same manner as homeowners from the modest tax rates and the certainty Prop 13 provides.
The “conventional wisdom” in Sacramento has been that attacks on Proposition 13 shouldn’t be taken too seriously because even most Democrats know that direct attacks would be overreaching. But in this case, “conventional wisdom” possesses neither convention nor wisdom.
The fact is that the attacks are coming and they are coming soon.
In the Senate, there are several proposed constitutional amendments to lower the two thirds vote for special taxes which would make it far too easy for local governments to impose a plethora of “parcel taxes.”
A problem for the tax and spend lobby is that the polls suggest that these parcel tax proposals are very unpopular with voters. Indeed, folks might assume that these polls influenced California’s Senate leader, Darrell Steinberg, when he stated last week that 2013 would not be a good year to move these proposals forward.
However, before homeowners breathe a sigh of relief, they need to consider the precise language used by Mr. Steinberg: “The question of lowering voter thresholds for the specific taxes on the local level, which is really the beginning of that conversation … definitely should be had and probably will be had at some point in this two-year session.”
Thus, it is not so much that attacking Proposition 13 isn’t on the agenda – it certainly is – the only issue is timing. This is like a parolee telling the authorities that he won’t rob a convenience store – today. The intent to commit the crime at some later date is implied.
The same is true here. Those who live off government largesse – meaning that they derive their income from the productive side of society – are out to destroy Proposition 13. It’s just that they have to wait a year before something can be put on the ballot.
And as if Steinberg’s comments weren’t clear enough, the California Democratic Party over the weekend announced their official platform which included a direct attack on Proposition 13.
If property owners wanted clarity over the battle lines, we now have it. The attacks are real, they are coming and they will be on the ballot in 2014.
The question is, will we be ready? Given that this year is the 35th anniversary of Proposition 13, nothing would do the legacy of Howard Jarvis more justice than to beat back all these threats. And that’s what we intend to do.