Jerry Ever-so-slyly Hints at An Attack on Prop 13

You don’t have to dig too hard in the Calitics archives to find our disdain for Prop 13. Or for that matter, I doubt many astute observers of politics would be surprised at the position repeated here many times.  However, it has been so sacrosanct for so long, that few have dared to touch it.  Sure, there have been a few haphazard attempts to tweak it, or even “split the rolls” by allowing reassessment of commercial property.  The one that comes to mind first is Phil Ting’s recent Close the Loophole campaign.

But nothing really took off.  We’ve been stuck with Prop 13 for an entire generation with no real signs of movement. It’s strangled our schools, left us with a wildly variable tax base, and led to many a budget crisis over the years.  

But Jerry Brown understands that it is the third rail. After all, some point the finger to his administration’s slow reaction to the growing anti-tax movement in the 1970s.  And it was Brown who proclaimed himself a “born again tax cutter” after it passed.  So he’s not going to challenge it directly.  But, you know, those mean unions, they aren’t down with the big landlords like he is.  They are really something of a wild card that he can’t really control:

Gov. Jerry Brown hinted Thursday that if the budget talks with Republicans break down, the initiative fight that would follow would not be limited to Brown’s plans to raise sales, vehicle and income taxes. He said he expects labor groups to pursue changes to Proposition 13, tweaking the current caps on commercial property taxes, if no bipartisan deal can be reached.

“I would expect there will be efforts to accelerate the reassessment of commercial property tax,” Brown said. (LA Times)

Of course, such a campaign would be bloody and expensive.  It certainly won’t be taken up lightly.  That being said, if you want stability, and you want tax equity, Prop 13 is the big target on the board.

6 thoughts on “Jerry Ever-so-slyly Hints at An Attack on Prop 13”

  1. However, according to Carla Marinucci at the SF Chron, he also brushed aside the possibility of this passing with a comment similar to yours about it being a third rail that no politician wants to touch.

    But I didn’t vote for a politician. I was promised an experienced leader. And that’s what I voted for. Brown even said he didn’t really plan to run for another office. Which makes him the ideal politician to lead on making our state revenues more stable and fair. Because, as a young friend of mine points out, she and her husband pay more taxes for their starter townhouse than the McDonalds down the street.

    That, of course, was the real reason for prop 13–tax breaks for corporations–not to keep seniors in their homes as they told us at the time. It’s time to change that. And time for Brown to show us the benefit of his experience by leading on it.

  2. How much tax revenue has it cost California to have commercial property assessed at 1978 values?  As long as Grover Norquist is able to run the state and country with his GOP obstruction, we are an economic disaster.  How long before no one wants to fund our debt due to our lack of willingness to pay our debt and our lack of economic prospects.  We have massive amounts of corporate money in our political system, but our economic numbers have been questionable since Reagan and Proposition 13.

  3. We’ve discussed this a few times before but I hope that if they opt to replace/mod prop13 for commercial property I hope they have the sense to address what made prop 13 so popular in the first place. highest among that is the uncertainty of your next years tax rate during real estate booms.  On top of that California already gets a bad business climate rap, I’m sure this won’t help.  

    But there will be a lot against even a commercial change – there are a lot of liberal business people too and they are having a hard time making ends meet now.

    I hope they pick one based off the average value over a ten year period for reassessing not annually.

  4. There was a fix I read probably on Calitics that I did not save.  It involved property that was owned by large corporations.  They are the ones who can change ownership without bringing on a reassessment.  The proposal left residential property unchanged from Proposition 13.  I don’t think big corporations would be effected that much by a reassessment from 1978.  If we had a responsible Legislature, they could easily make this adjustment.  

  5. Jerry is always so damned careful.  He did the very same thing when he was Governor 30 years ago.  Yo Jerry, it’s time to exhibit some leadership and change Prop 13!

  6. I love this gambit.  Pass the budget, Republicans, or you’ll be sorrreeee!

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