SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With California Democrats now holding a two-thirds majority in the state Legislature, there may be some changes to Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure which reduced property tax rates and limited future increases.
Two state senators, Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Lois Wolk, D-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 66.6 percent to 55 percent. This would potentially allow for more funding for local schools.
Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, supports the amendment, but insists this is not the beginning of major changes to Proposition 13.
"No one's talking about Prop. 13," Steinberg said. "The only good, solid idea that I think is backed by the people right now is to give local governments the authority to affect their own destiny with less than a two-thirds supermajority vote, that's 55 percent for parcel taxes at the local level. And that's, I think, a good, sound idea and that's all we're talking about."
Steinberg has promised 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.
Plans to increase taxes would certainly face resistance from Republicans.
"I think for the time being, at least, from my caucus' perspective, we're not eager to jump into any changes to Prop. 13 at all," Assem. Connie Conway, R-Visalia, said. "I mean, I would say for today, our vote is definitely to leave it alone, leave it stand as is."
However, with Democrats currently holding a super-majority in the Legislature, Republican lawmakers may not have much say in the matter.