State senator proposes changes to Proposition 13

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A state senator introduced an amendment to Proposition 13 Monday, urging that the legislature and California voters alter the measure to allow for greater funding to local schools.

The legislation, proposed by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would allow local property taxes to pass with a 55 percent voter majority in communities instead of supermajority as currently required.

The proposal comes in the wake of Proposition 30’s passage and newly elected democratic supermajorities in both legislative houses. If approved, the legislation may open the door to even greater changes to Proposition 13 — a landmark piece of legislation that limits property taxes and requires a two-thirds majority to pass local measures in communities and taxes through the legislature.

“I think given the context of everything happening with Prop. 30… changing the way taxes are passed in California through structural changes of Prop 13 is important,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi.

According to Abbasi, Prop. 13 has been the primary reason for a lack of consistent revenue in the state of California and this has directly affected UC funding.

“Education funding across California has been decimated in recent years, with severe consequences for students and our local schools,” Leno said in a statement. “This change in law would give voters the power to make decisions about public education at the local level.”

Leno’s bill will first be formally discussed in the new year, according to his press secretary Ali Bay.

Implemented in 1978, Prop. 13 has long been a point of contention among Californians for its strict anti-tax constraints. Despite cries for reform, former Berkeley College Republicans President Shawn Lewis said the measure keeps many people in their houses, and most Californians still support the measure.

“Passing Prop. 30 sent a signal that (the legislature) can use students as a bargaining chip,” Lewis said. “That’s kind of what I see happening again.”

As part of their budget campaign, the University of California Student Association took up reforming Prop. 13 due to its effects on public education. But it remains to be seen if Californians are interested in revising the law.

“It feels like we’re not clear right now if the passage of Prop. 30 means that we are in a new era in California in terms of taxes,” said UC Student Regent Jonathan Stein. “Maybe it means that (the state is) open to revising Prop. 13, but maybe it doesn’t.”

Contact Libby Rainey at [email protected]

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Senator Mark Leno’s proposed legislation would place a proposition on the ballot to amend Proposition 13. In fact, the legislation itself would amend Proposition 13.

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  • gobears

    Such a ruse- most places can pass school bonds just fine, and we showed we would raise taxes for higher education. This would just open a huge new source of funds for anyone to take advantage of for any purpose. Berkeley would have gone ahead and built that $16m swimming pool on the backs of the property owners.

  • tvitternaut

    dont these pass the bill to reverse prop 13 know the property owners dont mostly have mortgages so they will just rent out the houses instead of sale them cause they can then pass the cost of the hike in taxes in the form of higher rents and write off the losses in depreciation and also get those higher tax dollar from the rental people so to vote for this mark leno bill would only cause higher rents in california for its a premium to live here with 270 days of sun and sea and mountains and lakes so the youth who vote to pass this badly backed bill means all the affordable housing rents will pass the tax hikes on to the renters as always when the feds or the state look for tax money it comes at the loss of some houses to sales but once those houses without hoa costs are bought they will add to the rental units but the rents will have to go up to pay the taxes hikes. always the way the state wants money they stress the elderly who jaded since they lost their money always by some evil fed or bankers bent on taking their property well this time the young will foot the tax hikes and they think its costs to much to rent now wait til this bill passes inthe name of the inately stupid of the way tax money works those that have property will rent to pay the taxes at huge tax write offs and higher cost to the rentals in the area and it can go up two percent a year for how ever lonf it takes to level the tax hikes. nBut if they seek profit then there are the fees like cleaning and security and keys fees and then they charge late fees and dont forget the cost of all the other things laundry fACILITY o parking and storage ou might get the house for rent hikes but no use of the garage. pr no storage spot or loss of laundry room priviledge. a mess at the hikes cost to renters hikes large renter costs hikes to pay the tax how about 1800 dollar apartment thats like 360 dollar a month hikes in tax then every jan you get hit with even more tax hikes to the tune of next years monthly hike would be 2% of 2160 a month then th e next january your rent then goes to $432 dollars more a monh nice hikes huh? also when people like your parents loose their homes to taxes they have less to pay toward your educations college and they also are forced to move to less costly housing which since they are fixed incomes they woud then move out of state or to rural low cost housing like in the foot hils of california far away from college towns where their jids would have to leave the home and find higher cost housing which in a tax hike college town would make for very costly housing for the kids so let the kids vote for tax hikes eventually they pay for all the mess a over turn would make for education funding
    in a enviroment of a bunch of angry elderly who were made to sell their homes and look for a move money on fixed incomes they will be lesslikely to be passing education finding hikes money by tax ever again for a very long while,. besides the ones who can afford the hikes will just rent out at higher cost so the young just foul their own money situation and their parents pay too to have to find and you know who looses in the money game of high rents the ones with the east money to pay and the elderly have far more than even the most highest employed monied colege students. co its a no win for college and tax hikes hurt all for it makes for unfair tax property costs versus corporate tax advantages. so industrial housing would then convert real property to corporate then back to housing then when sold with higher costs to the renter or the buyer but the lloosers still are selling for money so they have huge amounts available to grab up all lower cost housing rentals go up due to the hikes in taxes cant afford one with high tax but if we split to three houses of low cost and rent two we can get the higher rents and live just in smaller digs and pass the costto all the rentals. see you loose trying to flick the elderly and there isnt enough housing available for the young who have money a real delimna for the young they vote for hikes to screw the elderly and they just end up getting the wrong end of the screw.

  • CalGrad

    We really need to eliminate prop 13 in the case of corporate real estate taxes. Loads of research indicates that one of the serious problems in California is that individuals are contributing far more than corporations do esp. in the case of property taxes. Meanwhile California companies are making record profits and keeping the money offshore in the hopes of a tax holiday.

    It’s not a popular viewpoint, but I’d absolutely love to see all the old homeowners in Berkeley that pay so little in property taxes shipped off to new senior centers in Vallejo or somewhere so that Cal grads who actually contribute the most to the economy and schools can actually afford to live here.

    • Excuse me, but once you have graduated from Cal, why would you want to hang around Berkeley?

  • Prop 13 was the response to outrageous taxes imposed on homeowners. Long may it live.

    • I_h8_disqus

      It won’t fall until the state falls. It is a mistake that a politician would make to think that Prop 13 is related to Prop. 30. Prop. 30 focused on the wealthy. Prop. 30 focuses on every home owner. Students might be willing to tax the rich to keep their tuition down, but they won’t be as likely to want to increase taxes for their parents. Changing Prop. 30 would also give every homeowner a reason to keep down state costs. So you would suddenly have homeowners who are no longer as supportive of education spending.

  • ChrisG

    Just another Democrat trying to screw us students. Doesn’t even have the courage to raise taxes themselves, want to change Prop 13 so he doesn’t need to take any blame! We’re students for four years, but taxpayers for life, and taxes keep going up and up.

    The Democrats in the state legislature are completely beholden to unions, like the prison guards, who can hold them accountable at the ballot box. They get the goodies, and we pay for it. So long as we’re a reliable Democratic voting block, we get nothing. Rep. Skinner basically even said that when we went to Sacramento last year to talk to her.

  • guest2
    Unless there is pension reform, there will be no end to tax increases in CA. Every tax increase Sacramento proposes will be under the guise of “greater funding to local schools.” This was how they were successful in getting Prop 30 approved.

  • earlrichards

    You mean 51%.

  • BerkeleyDude

    It is easy to avoid taxing seniors and retirees into foreclosure or out onto the street. For residential property occupied by the owner, simply make the cash-payment of property tax as it is now. Going up in a predictable way. But let the tax on the extra assessed value just sit as a lien against the house to be paid only when it is sold or transferred. Eventually, the city/county will get the money and it will come out of the then appreciated house price. No cash-flow problem for those on a fixed income and simultaneously, neighbors with identical houses will have identical taxes due as well.

    For property that is on rent to non-relatives, simply tie the property tax to the rent. If the rent goes up, the property tax due in cash follows it on a percentage basis. If the rent stays constant, so does the property tax owed in cash. (Extra-assessed value is as above. Fairness dictates that identical houses owned by neighbors should owe the same tax, regardless of when they bought the property. The way it is in practically every other state in the country.)

    For commercial property, the property tax due in cash should just follow the max of profits and executive compensation. That way, no business will go under due to property taxes. But neither will some businesses enjoy an unfair tax advantage over their competitors. A level playing field is the basis of legitimate capitalism.

    • I_h8_disqus

      One purpose of all this talk is to get more consistent tax revenues. If the tax won’t be collected until the house is sold, then we lose that consistent aspect, because we wouldn’t see consistent house sales. I would also think your lien idea would cause people to stay in their houses, because over time the tax lien would grow dramatically. Also since the payment of the tax lien depends on the house price appreciating, a housing collapse like we have now would eliminate those tax liens, and the state would lose all this tax money they had budgeted to collect. We don’t want to create a tax system that will prevent the state from collecting taxes. We should only tax things that are fairly reliable and that would be fair.

      • BerkeleyDude

        At the risk of offending many folks with a visceral hatred for Wall Street, once you have an asset like the lien on the house, it can be converted into cash through securitization. The risks you are talking about (when the house will be sold, will it have appreciated enough by then, will folks stay in their houses, etc…) are all amenable to pricing and diversification. Wall Street would be happy to turn any quantity of such assets into cash. Yes, the risk involved means that the cash would be less. But it would still generate “consistent” tax revenues. (Moreover, the price of such assets on the market would provide a useful feedback mechanism for cities and counties as they consider policies.)

        As far as people staying in their houses, that presumably was the whole point of trying to shield fixed-income folks from the impact of real-estate asset price fluctuations. That is a policy decision that has already been taken. The reality is that most people move out of a house when they have no choice because their life circumstances have significantly changed including getting a new job that makes people move. These are exogenous disturbances.

        • I_h8_disqus

          Your ideas are pretty interesting, but you know they are way over the heads of state senators and the voting public. If you would want to get any voter approval of a change to Prop. 13, then it would have to be in a form that could be understood by the average voter. I would also tend to avoid anything that looked like it involved speculation by Wall Street related to the housing market.

        • Stan De San Diego

          > “At the risk of offending many folks
          > “with a visceral hatred for Wall Street

          Don’t even concern yourself with what the blame-the-rich clowns think. The vast majority of OWS types aren’t even employed, much less taxpayers, so they really have no skin in the game.

  • I_h8_disqus

    We don’t need to revise Prop. 13. Our state is already in the top five for per capita taxes. We just waste all that revenue. Our problem hasn’t been a lack of revenue. It has been a lack of control by the government when it comes to expenditures. If you don’t like how people have been losing their houses during the last several years, then you shouldn’t want to add an additional tax burden to those who happen to still have their houses. An additional tax burden that will push many more into foreclosure.

    • BleedUsDry

      Well put. Californians are the highest taxed people in the country.

  • libsrclowns

    Screw the seniors on fixed incomes, increase their property taxes until they are forced to sell their houses. We need dinero now!

    • just another senior

      Well screw you, you will some day be a senior and see how that feels to be forced to sell your home that you have been in for over 35 yrs. AND the english word is MONEY not dinero. That alone, tells me where your’e from.

      • Guest

        Wow, you completely failed to detects librclown’s sarcasm. A look as his name shows where he stands on the issue.

        What a fucking idiot.