New debate on California's Proposition 13

1978 ballot measure reduced property tax rates

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With California Democrats now holding a two-thirds majority in the state legislature, we may soon see some changes to Proposition 13.

That's the 1978 ballot measure which reduced property tax rates and limited future increases.

But now two state senators, Mark Leno of San Francisco and Lois Wolk of Davis, have introduced an amendment to  Prop. 13, which would allow for easier voter passage of local property tax hikes. It would lower the percentage needed for passage from two-thirds to 55%. 

This would potentially allow for more funding for local schools.

Senate President Darrell Steinberg supports the amendment, but insists this is not the beginning of major changes to Prop. 13. 

"No one's talking about Prop. 13.  The only good, solid idea that I think is backed by the people right now it to give local governments the authority to affect their own destiny with less than a two-thirds supermajority vote, that's 55% for parcel taxes at the local level.  And that's, I think, a good, sound idea and that's all we're talking about," said Steinberg.

Steinberg has promised that democrats would not immediately raise taxes in the new legislative session, but that doesn't mean that they won't look into tax increases, including other changes to Prop. 13, down the road.

They would certainly face resistance from Republicans.

But with democrats currently holding a supermajority in the legislature, republican lawmakers may not have much say in the matter.

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