Prop 13, 40 years of protections at risk

By Senator Scott Wilk

Benjamin Franklin once opined that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He may have been right, and nowhere in this world is that more true than right here in the State of California.

Luckily, 40 years ago today Californians resoundingly approved a measure to curb at least one aspect of our state’s tax-happy agenda; the property tax.

Proposition 13 passed easily as Californians had grown tired of rapidly rising tax rates in an era of frivolous spending by state legislators.

Today, Legislative leaders continue to punish our citizens and businesses with burdensome tax schemes that see California with the single highest income tax rate vying for first in just about every other category.

We are the most taxed people in the nation on everything from gasoline to groceries to gifts from our loved ones but thanks to Prop. 13, property taxes have remained a point of reason in an otherwise ludicrous California tax structure.

But today, as everyday Californians work hard to pay their mortgages, political activists backed by Legislative leaders are making a monumental effort to roll back the protections afforded to homeowners by one of the most successful and widely popular propositions ever passed in this state.

They want to increase property taxes with a ballot measure of their own. First their coming after business owners whose tax rates will increase exponentially and continuously under the new proposition.

They say it won’t affect homeowners, just businesses. But this is exactly the kind of creeping roll back in tax protections we see time and again from left leaning activists and politicians in this state. One inch at a time they reach deeper and deeper in to our pockets until there is nothing left.

There’s no telling where the money would go. There’s no telling just how much more businesses would be on the hook to pay. There’s no telling how many of them would shut their doors or move away as a result, leaving economies struggling and workers unemployed in their wake. But they don’t care; they want our money at any cost.

It’s been 40 years now since Californians took the bold step of protecting themselves from their own government’s greed. Now, it is more important than ever for us to celebrate that victory and to mount another.

We must overcome this money-grab. We must not lose sight of the nearly $1 trillion dollars Californians have saved in property taxes since Prop. 13 passed and trillions we stand to lose without its protections. We must say no; no, we will not forego our protections and submit more of our hard earned money to the government.

Franklin’s quote on death and the certainty of taxation may be the best known from the period, but his friend and colleague Thomas Jefferson shared a thought that Californians would do well to consider at this time when he said that “taxes should be proportional to what may be annually spared by the individual.” We Californians simply cannot spare any more.