Proposition 25 is the latest weapon against Proposition 13, but backers do not want voters to know it.
Statewide polls taken in recent years show Prop 13 to be as popular 30 years after its passage as in 1978, when it passed with nearly two-thirds of the vote. While the general public supports the landmark measure – with its limitation on property tax increases and requirement of a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to increase state taxes – politicians and government employee union leaders continue to see Prop 13 as a barrier to their draining every dime from taxpayers.
Writing about the campaign to pass Prop 13, the measure’s author Howard Jarvis wrote, “Virtually all of the howlers against Prop 13 had their noses buried deeply in the public trough. They were on a gravy train provided by the taxpayers, and they wanted to ride that train at the taxpayers’ expense, until they reached the promised land of exorbitant pensions for the rest of their lives.”
Three decades later, Jarvis’ description of Prop 13’s opponents is still accurate – with one important exception. Those who would destroy Prop 13 no longer howl against it directly. They have learned that the public will reject and ridicule their complaints. They have become more clever, more subtle in their efforts to undermine Prop 13. Now, they employ other methods to soften voter resolve and convince the public to return more control over taxing and spending to the politicians and their government employee union allies.
Enter Prop 25, a creation of ultra-liberal former Senator John Burton. With great fanfare, promoters of this measure say it will not change the rules to pass new taxes — all it does is make it easier to pass the state budget — what’s not to like?
The two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget, which Burton and others want to lower, dates back to 1933. It has served as an assurance that, not only will both major parties be considered in spending plans, but so, too, will all geographic areas of the state.
If all Prop 25 did was lower the vote to pass a budget, that would be detrimental enough, but it also contains language that says appropriations-related bills can be passed with a simple majority. To some legal experts, this means new taxes could be approved using this loophole, thereby circumventing Prop 13. Add to that the fact that an easy-to-pass budget would allow greater spending — risking more debt for our state — and it becomes clear that Prop 25 is a witch’s brew – very damaging to taxpayers.
But, that is just the “good” news.
Here is what Prop 25 is really all about, in the words of some of its promoters. When discussing the elimination of the two-thirds vote for the budget and taxes, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said, “The question then becomes one of strategy and timing. Do you try to accomplish it all at once, or do you set a two- to four-year to six–year plan that takes a big piece or two at a time to voters?”
In addition, United Teachers of Los Angeles — a major backer of Prop 25, along with allied unions CFT and CTA — tells its members, “Further it will send an important signal that Californians believe in majority rule and will help set the stage for taking on some of the regressive elements of Prop 13.”
To Steinberg, Burton and the government employee unions, the “regressive elements of Prop 13” are the taxpayer protections it contains. If Prop 25 passes, we know what will come next.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -– California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization and is dedicated to the protection of Prop 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights. For more information please visit the HJTA website.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog by our guest elections columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of California Forward or our Leadership