Lawmaker Wants To Change Proposition 13

A California lawmaker wants to change Proposition 13 to boost funding for public education and other programs.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said Thursday that he plans to introduce legislation that would remove business property owners from some provisions of the groundbreaking 1978 law, which placed limits on residential and commercial property taxes.

A “split roll” would allow commercial properties to be taxed based on their current market value. Currently, corporations can avoid reassessments when property changes hands, Ammiano said.

“Prop. 13 is not the untouchable third-rail anymore,” Ammiano said in a statement. “It’s more like the bad guy with the mustache who has tied California to the rails with the fiscal train wreck coming.”

The lawmaker said revenue was needed to help government programs that have been slashed in recent years.

While Proposition 13 remains popular with California voters, a new poll found 58% of them favor the “split roll” idea. According to the survey, released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, most Democrats and independents supported the proposal while Republicans were divided.

The change would have to be approved by voters, and with new supermajorities in both legislative houses, Democrats now have the power to place measures on the ballot without GOP backing.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) has also proposed changing Proposition 13. He introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow local parcel taxes for schools to pass with 55% of the vote, instead of the two-thirds currently required.

Reprinted from The Los Angeles Times (Dec. 6, 2012)