2014 may be the most dangerous year yet for Proposition 13 and the taxpayers who depend on its protections.

As HJTA members know, the 2012 elections resulted in the Democrats achieving a supermajority (two-thirds) in both houses of the Legislature.  Because a handful of lawmakers were seeking and were subsequently elected to, other offices, the majority party was held just short of the two-thirds vote needed to pass constitutional amendments that would undermine Proposition 13.

With the special elections to replace these lawmakers being over, the anti-Proposition 13 politicians believe their goal is in sight.

It is important to note that HJTA is nonpartisan.  More than a third of HJTA members are Democrats and in the past, we’ve had the support of some Democratic lawmakers who recognize the importance of Proposition 13.  However, the majority party in the Legislature is currently dominated by those who want to raise more revenue by weakening taxpayer protections, and that threat is real.

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg announced that 2014 would be the year to examine Proposition 13.

A number of anti-Prop. 13 bills are currently active in the Legislature.  Especially threatening to homeowners is legislation that would make it easier to increase “per-parcel taxes.”  Parcel taxes are taxes on property that, under Proposition 13, require a two-thirds vote.  The politicians want to lower the vote requirement which could cost homeowners billions of dollars.

It is possible that a half-dozen anti-Proposition 13 bills will be rushed through at the end of the legislative session this summer to give opponents less time to respond.  Most of these are constitutional amendments that would have to go on the November 2014 ballot for final approval by voters.  This would present a major problem for taxpayers.  It takes only a majority of voters to approve an amendment to the California Constitution, and while Proposition 13 remains popular with the general public, millions of dollars will be spend by backers of higher taxes to portray these changes as increasing “local control” or as enabling “investment in the community.”

One only has to go back to the passage of Proposition 39 in 2000 which lowered the vote for local school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent.  As of 2010, Proposition 39 is estimated to have cost taxpayers $21 billion.  Promoters spend over $60 million – outspending taxpayers by more than 10 to 1 – to convince voters to approve Proposition 39 without once mentioning the words “tax increase.”

If at all possible, taxpayers want to avoid a ballot war with wealthy special interests and government-employee unions that consider the spending of $60 million on a campaign, which could return billions of dollars in tax revenue, an outstanding return on investment.

While HJTA lobbying activity in the Capitol succeeded in blocking all anti-Proposition 13 bills in 2013, tax backers will be pulling out all the stops.  To counter these effects and keep anti-taxpayer legislation off the ballot, HJTA has been targeting those Democrats elected in what are called “swing districts.”  These districts are closely balanced between Republican and Democratic voters and with most Republicans and many Democrats supporting Proposition 13, a representative who casts a vote against taxpayers is vulnerable to being turned out in the next election.

As HJTA members know, as part of the lobbying effort, hundreds of thousands of petitions are delivered to lawmakers telling them to keep their hands off Proposition 13.  While some of these politicians continue their anti-taxpayer ways, there are many who realize that if thousands of their constituents are willing to sign petitions in support of Proposition 13, these petition signers are almost certain to vote based on a lawmaker’s response.  HJTA makes it clear to these politicians that if they work against Proposition 13, grassroots taxpayers will remember come Election Day.

HJTA will continue to keep members informed of threats to Proposition 13 and how they can help defeat these attacks on taxpayers.  Additionally, HJTA is expanding vigorous outreach to the general public so allCaliforniavoters and taxpayers will understand what is at stake.

For more information on the 2014 battle to preserve Proposition 13, please go to the HJTA website, www.hjta.org.  While there, be sure to sign up for the free taxpayer alerts. 

Follow the Money – Down the Drain

What if you were told there is a corrupt dictatorship on the other side of the world where government officials are usingUSforeign aid to build palatial mansions for themselves, diverting money intended to feed poor children and spending billions with no oversight or accountability?

Unfortunately, these examples are not from a remote foreign land, but from right here inCalifornia. And you,Californiataxpayers, are footing the bill.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation has just released “Follow the Money 2013,” a report chronicling some of the highest profile government waste, fraud and abuse uncovered this year. Added together, the examples in this document amount to tens of billions of dollars.

There seems to be no limit on the irresponsible behavior of some politicians and bureaucrats when it comes to spending OPM (Other People’s Money). “Follow the Money 2013” shows they are paying millions to drug rehab clinics with histories of questionable billing practices, giving elected officials bonuses just for being reelected, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on outside consultants, and much, much more.

While the report profiles numerous high profile scandals discovered in 2013, it also raises an even more compelling question: if these examples were all exposed in the course of the last year, how much additional waste is still hiding in the shadows? Could the billions that we know were squandered, just be the tip of an even larger iceberg of titanic waste?

Taxpayers can expect 2014 to bring new efforts by theSacramentopoliticians to saddle our high-unemployment economy with billions in tax increases, including proposals to repeal portions of Prop. 13 to satisfy their insatiable hunger for more revenue.

They will say regular citizens need to sacrifice so that the state can afford to provide quality services we all care about, such as education and public safety. That’s why now is the right time to ask whether they’ve spent the money we’ve already given them responsibly.

In fact, over the last 40 years spending has doubled on a per capita, inflation adjusted basis. But 40 years ago, we had a thriving economy and some of the nation’s best schools and roads. People came toCaliforniafrom all over the country, drawn by warm weather, affordable homes and plentiful jobs.

Now, we’re spending more and getting less in return. Billions are being flushed down the drain, lost forever to waste, fraud and abuse. Misguided policies have hobbled the state’s economy, sent energy costs through the roof and prevented the construction of important infrastructure such as roads, refineries and ports.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but the first step to restoring a more fiscally responsible government and a more prosperous economy is to start a conversation about whether the current state of affairs is acceptable. We can and must do better.

Concerned citizens can read the “Follow the Money 2013” report for themselves by visiting http://hjta.org/pdf/Follow_the_Money_2013.pdf.

You can donate now or give it to the politicians after they raise property taxes even more! https://www.aoausa.com/govabuse/index.php

Article was written by Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

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