By Jon Coupal
Nineteenth century lawyer and newspaper publisher, Gideon J. Tucker, once said that “no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” Well, the California Legislature is back in session and no truer words have ever been spoken. And, while we’re still waiting on a thousand or so more bills to appear in print, there are already several major concerns to taxpayers, and even a few direct threats to Proposition 13.
Here are just two: ACA 1 and ACA 3.
Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 is a perennial attack on Proposition 13. Year after year it is re-introduced and each time California taxpayers rise up and defeat it. Still, it’s a recurring threat that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and taxpayers need to remain vigilant. Bad bills pass all the time and we never know when some deal may be struck that sees ACA 1 sail through. That is especially true in this new legislative session, with a new crop of progressive representatives.
All Californians should be deeply concerned about ACA 1 because it would make it easier to raise taxes by lowering the voter approval requirement for local bonds and tax increases from the current two-thirds down to 55 percent if the money would be used for “public infrastructure” and certain types of public housing projects. Proposition 13 mandates a two-thirds voter approval for all special taxes, but ACA 1 would wipe out that protection for nearly all local taxes because the category of “infrastructure” is so vague that it covers almost anything.
In 2000, voters lowered the threshold needed to approve school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent based on the promise that all California’s problems with education would be cured. How did that work out? California’s test scores are still at the bottom even as per-pupil spending skyrockets.
These are below-the-line exactions that are added to property tax bills above and beyond Prop. 13’s one percent cap. That’s why Prop. 13’s two-thirds vote requirements for all special taxes is so important. It protects all property owners and deserves our vigilant protection.
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I personally would be interested to learn how we can reverse the threshold needed to approve school bonds back to two-thirds vote, vice 55 percent.