California Studies Association

The latest news, events, and perspectives from the CSA

ANTHOLOGY: 13 at 30: Would We Pass it Again? Would We Be Right?

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30 years ago today, Californians exercised their right as Progressive-era descendants to pass a tax revolt measure at the head of the wily decade of stag(flation) hot tub parties, the battle of the sexes tennis match, and Carter’s malaise speech. Standing at the gates of another recession and budget cutbacks, we weigh in again.

Michael Krasny’s FORUM on KQED featured a panel on Monday, June 9 about Prop 13’s legacy. The panelists included Peter Schrag (Sac. Bee), Marc Dicamillo (Field Research Corporation), Jonathan Coupal (Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.), and Isaac Martin (UCSD). 2 in favor, 2 not in favor: he said, she said.

A report published at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association (Howard and Estelle Jarvis spearheaded Prop 13, and continued their work in its aftermath) shows that Californians would pass 13 again.

The Chronicle interviews Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California on the political legacy of Prop 13 and describes the continuation of the public sentiments of malaise and mistrust.

Richard Boggs, an LA tax consultant, wrote an editorial in the same Chronicle that measured tax certainty versus the affects on services.

Speaking of the PPIC, Baldassare co-authored a recent report and survey on Prop 13 (pdf) shows that 56% of Democrats believed that Prop 13 was “mostly a good thing for California.” 80% of the Republicans that were surveyed agreed with the statement. In addition, 71% of all Californians surveyed think that the initiative system is working just fine, in spite of a record-setting decade of 95 initiatives. The survey was split, however, about the effects of Prop 13 on the function of local government. PPIC also did a slew of reports when Prop 13 turned 20.

CSA constituent Peter Schrag rips Prop 13 a new one in the Sacramento Bee: it “brought the gush of ‘auto-pilot’ ballot-box budget measures that’s both driven and restricted state spending and otherwise limited elected government.”

In the LA Times Bill Stall provides a memoir of his time under Jerry Brown and a biting critique of Prop 13’s results.

The LA Times also runs a story that recounts the editorial board’s horror at Prop 13 and its coverage of the bill in Feb. and March 1978.


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