Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Young at Heart (of Lawsuit Challenging Prop 13)

Proposition 13 of 1978 - the brainchild of Howard Jarvis (at right) and Paul Gann - drastically cut and limited local property taxes and imposed a two-thirds vote rule in the legislature for tax increases.  Various court cases have challenged it over the years.  However, UCLA’s former chancellor, Charles Young, is part of a lawsuit to overturn it on (state) constitutional grounds.  Obviously, if that were to occur, it would have a major impact on fiscal affairs of state and local government in California.  It would surely affect the UC budget.  From Mother Jones:

Back when Proposition 8 — the anti-gay marriage initiative — was in court, one of the arguments made against it was that it represented a fundamental revision to the California constitution, not a mere amendment. As such, it should have required two-thirds approval from both houses of the legislature plus a majority of the public.  Gay rights supporters lost that argument, but Charles Young, the former chancellor of UCLA, had a brainstorm. Maybe Prop 8 wasn't a fundamental revision, but how about Proposition 13?

Passed at a time when property taxes were sharply on the rise and California was running a surplus, Proposition 13 limited property taxes to 1% of a property's value and restricted the annual increases on assessed values. ... But Proposition 13 also required that "any change in state statute which results in a taxpayer paying a higher tax" must be approved by two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature.
That language has had a profound impact on the power of the executive and the Legislature. The power that it constrains — the authority to raise public funds — is among the most fundamental of government. And the requirement gives more weight to some legislators — and, by extension, their constituents. As the lawsuit notes, "legislators opposing a tax increase are given the functional equivalent of more votes than those legislators who favor such proposals." …

Howard Jarvis - long dead - would surely be mad as Hell if he knew about the lawsuit.  He did have a brief movie career after Prop 13 passed.  You may have seen him in Airplane in which he had less success in getting a taxi at LAX than with his ballot measure:


Unknown said...

Prop 13 was sold on the no property tax increase plank but it rules every dime spent in this state tying every approval to the 34% and not the 66% of our legislature. We never debated what form of government the 2/3's approval process would create in California and how it would change the face of the state.

Certainly new propositions will be brought if prop 13 is thrown out. I support the property tax protections but I can't support super majorities for budget and expense approval because it prevents the will of the people, waters down our representative government and the power of one person one vote.

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