Letter writer Clay Nolde, in commenting on a recent Gasparotti opinion piece mentions that Proposition 13 has cost California schools and municipalities “billions of dollars” over the years.
Since Prop. 13 was enacted, the state has replaced this loss of funds from Prop. 13 with increases in income, sales, and gas taxes. These California taxes are currently the highest in the nation. Contrary to public opinion, California does have high property taxes even though Prop. 13 is in effect, we are currently number 18. If not for Prop. 13, we would most likely be first in that category as well.
In 2020, there will be a ballot initiative to remove commercial property from Proposition 13, backed by teachers unions, public employees and their unions to shore up their pensions. In 2012, voters passed Prop. 30, greatly increasing the income tax.
Of the $7 billion collected, $3 billion will go to teachers’ pensions, and an additional $1.5 billion to public employees and their unions. Worse with Prop. 55, the income tax increases are permanent until 2030. Not only did the public get fooled, they got fooled twice.
Certainly the nexus of property taxes supporting schools is more direct than using income tax and general fund dollars to support schools. So as a matter of public policy, it would make sense to cut income and sales taxes to make up for the additional revenue raised if Proposition 13 were modified by deleting commercial property. Without this, changes to Prop. 13 are just another tax, that hopefully voters will recognize.
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