Political endorsements dominate Special Election for State Senate District 7

In the Special Election for the State Senate District 7 seat, candidate endorsements seem to be the only news in a contest where its difficult to see any differences in the policies of the leading candidates, Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and termed out Joan Buchanan of Alamo.

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In the Special Election for the State Senate District 7 seat, political endorsements seem to be the only news in a contest where it’s difficult to see any differences in the policies of the leading candidates, Assemblywomen Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and termed out Joan Buchanan of Alamo. Continue reading “Political endorsements dominate Special Election for State Senate District 7”

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How Proposition 13 changed California politics

In June 1978, Jerry Brown was sitting on a huge budget surplus: $5 billion. In 2014 dollars, that $5 billion of 1978 would be equivalent to $18 billion. When Proposition 13 passed on June 6, 1978, a lopsided majority of 63 percent of voters approved the measure. But knowing that the revenue from property taxes would be slashed, a swarm of local politicians descended on Sacramento to carve up Brown’s $5 billion state surplus and have that surplus money sent from Sacramento to local jurisdictions.

California politics at Halfway To ConcordThe year was 1978. On June 6 of that year, California voters passed Proposition 13, a measure to roll back local property taxes to 1975 levels and make raising such taxes, in the future, very difficult.

Led by two anti-tax crusaders, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, Proposition 13 was put on the state ballot by these two men. They gathered enough signatures to give Californians a ballot measure that would halt virtually all automatic increases in property taxes.

Before Proposition 13, property taxes would go up automatically. The tax hikes would be based on a formula related to a property’s assessed value. For example, if a home’s value went from $100,000 to $200,000, the property tax would automatically increase.

Between 1973 and 1978, real estate prices began to soar. As real estate went up in value, so did property taxes — again automatically.

Many people, especially the elderly, believed that they would be taxed out of their homes.

Jarvis and Gann, sensing how important a person’s home is, claimed that with Proposition 13 property taxes could only increase a maximal two percent a year unless voters approved a tax increase for a higher amount. And any tax increase would have to be approved by a two-thirds supermajority vote of local residents.

Proposition 13 placed a limit on property taxes. The limit was one percent of a property’s assessed value.

concord tax measureIn 1978, California’s governor was Jerry Brown, the same man who is governor today. Brown, a Democrat, was elected to a first term as governor in 1974 and was up for a second term in 1978. He won a second term. (In 2010, Brown was elected to a third term and this year is seeking a fourth term.) Brown’s father, Pat Brown, also a Democrat, was governor from 1959 to 1967.

Politicians, however, do not give out money without demanding some control over how that money is used.

Thus, Proposition 13, effectively emasculated local control, replacing such control with state-government control. For example, local school districts, now lacking money, received state-government money to make up for losses. And Sacramento now had a say in how that money could be spent.

Giving all this power to Sacramento had unforeseen consequences.

Now, 36 years later, Sacramento is still telling local communities how to behave. But Sacramento is making more demands than ever before.

Today, Sacramento is demanding that local communities create a Housing Element, a plan to have local governments create housing for low-income people. Many communities in the San Francisco Bay Area are being told to produce a Housing Element or face a cutoff of state-provided money for road repairs.

Sacramento is also demanding that driving patterns be altered. The goal is to reduce pollutants emanating from motor vehicles.

That’s not all. Sacramento, acting through regional governmental agencies, is telling local communities to build high-rise, high-density housing (often called stack-and-pack housing) near transportation hubs like train stations.

Proposition 13 may have made efforts to raise local property taxes harder, but it also lead to a huge transfer of power from the local level to the state level.

Perhaps California needs a new Proposition 13, one that will keep property taxes low and protect local communities from being bossed around by Sacramento bureaucrats.

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California Republicans; An endangered Species?

What’s wrong with the Republican Party? The thought occurred to me a couple years ago while attending a Candidates Forum at the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville. At this “rubber chicken” event were the Central Committee members of the GOP, who were trying to figure what and whom to endorse in the sample ballot to be sent out to voters. Continue reading “California Republicans; An endangered Species?”

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Susan Bonilla, unnecessary fundraisers, and more

It is difficult to fathom that with absentee ballots from November 6th barely counted, fund raising continues as if there was an election next week. Case in point Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla. Even though she ran unopposed, Bonilla presided over her 6th annual Christmas Breakfast November 30th to celebrate the holiday season and add funds to her future political endeavors. Continue reading “Susan Bonilla, unnecessary fundraisers, and more”

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No excuses for California Democrat Supermajority

Finally! Democrats in the state legislature can no longer blame their failures on the California GOP. In the recent election Democrats gained a two thirds Supermajority in the Assembly and State Senate. With the new configuration of the legislature, Republicans are unable block any bill, nor can they overturn a veto by Governor Brown. In short the California Republican Party (CRP) is no longer a force to be compromised with in Sacramento. Continue reading “No excuses for California Democrat Supermajority”

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More local tax measures coming on November ballot

Just when you think you are taxed to the max, local politicians have another plan. Many of these items have worthy goals (there are certainly exceptions), but local governments seem to be out of touch with California’s reality. We have an unemployment/underemployment rate of 20.3%. That makes California #2 in the nation, behind Nevada. We may be entering a second recession and adding these tax burdens (plus the state’s tax plans) most would say would not be a good thing for the economy. See list below. Continue reading “More local tax measures coming on November ballot”

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