California Initiative to Erode Proposition 13 Qualifies for 2020 Ballot

Howard-JarvisAdvocates qualified a 2020 ballot measure to erode California’s Proposition 13 protections against unlimited property tax increases by splitting the tax roll to spike business taxes by up to $10.5 billion.

A coalition representing public-employee unions, “social justice” advocates, and public education collected more than the 585,407 legal signatures required to a qualify a state constitutional amendment for the November 3, 2020 ballot titled: “Requires Certain Commercial And Industrial Real ‘Property To Be Taxed Based On Fair-Market Value. Dedicates Portion Of Any Increased Revenue To Education And Local Services.’”

With rampant inflation forcing older homeowners and small businesses out of their properties, a California voter grass-roots coalition rebelled against Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown in 1978 to qualify and pass with 62 percent support an amendment to Article XIII A of the state constitution stating the “maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed one percent of the full cash value of such property.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association (HTJA) has fought off numerous efforts by progressives and public employee unions to repeal Prop. 13 and its 57 percent annual property tax savings over the last 40 years. With about $49 billion in 2018 tax savings, a Public Policy Institute of California poll in April demonstrated that voters still favoring Prop 13 by a lopsided 57 percent to 23 percent margin. Democrat politicians often refer to Prop 13 as the third rail of California politics: “Touch it and die.”

But the pro-tax coalition cleverly structured its 2020 initiative as a property tax “split roll.”  The initiative promises to maintain Prop 13 protections for homeowners, while spiking annual business property taxes by $6.5 to $10.5 billion. According to an April 2018 poll by PPIC, likely voter support for “split roll” flips to 61 percent, versus 33.0 percent opposition.

But the HJTA told Breitbart that the “bait-and-switch” tactics will fail when voters figure out that the initiative’s sponsors are engaged in a two-step process to fracture opposition and dump all Prop 13 protections in the end. Homeowners may have voting power, but they need apartment owner and small business financial donations to compete against huge union war chests funded by dues.

HJTA added that the PPIC’s mid-September polling found its “Yes on Prop 6” campaign to repeal the $5.5 billion a year gas tax on the November ballot was losing by 52 percent to 39 percent. But after HJTA’s and partner Reform California’s mail and radio messages were launched, the mid-October Survey USA poll and the San Diego Union-Tribune poll both showed “Yes on Prop 6” with a crushing 58 to 29 percent lead among likely voters.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Once again, California Prop. 13 is ‘on the table’

property taxIn the contest to see who will be California’s next governor, political pollsters haven’t given Republican John Cox much of a chance of prevailing over former San Francisco mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. After all, California remains a fairly progressive state and the Newsom campaign has more money. Cox, to his credit, has closed the gap significantly in recent weeks and stays focused on his message highlighting that California’s government is dysfunctional, and what can be done about it.

Newsom and Cox have had only one debate — which was actually billed as a “discussion” rather than a true debate — and no further debates are scheduled, although Cox has agreed to them. Given his advantages in the race, Newsom appears to be steering clear of anything that could trip him up.

However, their one debate was illuminating in one, troubling respect. In a discussion of tax reform connected to housing, Newsom was asked directly whether Proposition 13 was “on the table.” He answered, “everything is on the table.” This is a comment to send cold shivers down the spines of Californians whose homes are their lifelong and most important investment.

To read the entire column, please click here.

To read last week’s complete column, please click here.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register

Battles Fought to Stop Tax Hikes in CA Legislature

CapitolWhile on the campaign trail prior to the 1988 election, Republican presidential candidate George H.W. Bush uttered the now infamous words, “read my lips, no new taxes.” Of course, this was a pledge he broke, which likely cost him reelection.

The mission of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is to protect Proposition 13 and to advance taxpayers’ rights, including the right to limited taxation, the right to vote on tax increases and the right of economical, equitable and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Unfortunately, this value set is shared by too few politicians in Sacramento.

Because of that, taxpayers rarely are able to obtain meaningful reform in the state Capitol. California’s reputation for high taxes and burdensome regulations is well deserved and taxpayers are usually able to obtain relief only through the powers of direct democracy including initiative, referendum and recall.

While many wish this wasn’t the case, the stark reality is that legislators have voted for eight taxes (six of which became law) since 2012.

In nearly all instances it was Republicans (usually opposed to higher taxes) who joined with tax-and-spend Democrats to provide the final vote for tax increases ranging from car registrations, to gas taxes, to lumber and battery assessments and mattresses.

Thankfully though, no taxes were approved in 2018.

Don’t misunderstand, the tax-and-spend lobby wasn’t taking the year off just because of the upcoming November election. If anything, they were eager to follow up on their three victories last year, which included the infamous gas tax and a tax on recorded documents. Governor Brown made it clear in 2016 that he desired a permanent source of revenue to fund transportation, affordable housing, and clean water programs. He got the first two last year so only the water tax remained.

The fight over the water tax was very contentious. First, no one doubted the importance of having access to clean water, particularly in the Central Valley where decades of neglect and mismanagement of water systems created the problem in the first place. But imposing a dollar-a-month tax on all residential water users in the state to address a local problem made no sense. The cost to fix the problem was estimated to be $120 million of one-time money, which reflects a tiny percentage of California’s General Fund budget. Thankfully, Senate Bill 623 failed before the Legislature’s summer recess in July and taxpayers and their allies, mostly California’s local water agencies, breathed a sigh of relief. …

Click here to read the full article from the Los Angeles Daily News

Let’s Educate the Voters About Proposition 13

VotedThis week, progressive interest groups announced they had sufficient signatures to qualify an initiative for the 2020 ballot that is a direct attack on Proposition 13. Specifically, this so-called “split roll” initiative would raise property taxes on the owners of business properties to the tune of $11 billion every year, according to the backers. Because many small business owners rent their property via “triple net” leases, they too would be subject to radical increases in the cost of doing business.

Although there is a statewide election this November, the “split roll” measure will not appear on the ballot until 2020 because the proponents, either intentionally or not, did not submit their signatures in time for the 2018 ballot. They say they anticipate a better voter turnout in two years, which in itself may be wishful thinking. Ben Grieff, a community organizer with the ultra-progressive group Evolve, also said that the later election would be necessary to lay the groundwork for “a long two-year campaign” and that, “we need all of that to educate people.”

Well, educating people about Prop. 13 cuts both ways. And if past campaigns and polling are any indication, the more Californians learn about Prop. 13, the more they like it.

So let’s start today’s lesson with an overview of a class we’ll call “Why Prop. 13 is Good for California.” Here are the benefits of it in a nutshell.

Prop. 13 limits the tax rate on all real estate in California to 1 percent. Increases in the taxable value of property — often referred to as the “assessed value” — are limited to 2 percent per year. This prevents “sticker shock” for property owners when opening their tax bills compared to the previous year’s bill. Property is reassessed to full market value when it is sold. This system of taxing property benefits homeowners, because Prop. 13 makes property taxes predictable and stable so homeowners can budget for taxes and remain in their homes.

Renters benefit because Prop. 13 makes property taxes predictable and stable for owners of residential rental property, and this helps to reduce upward pressure on rents. If one believes that California’s current housing crisis is bad now, imagine how high rents would be if the owners of the property were forced to pass along their higher tax bills to their tenants. In truth, Prop. 13 increases the likelihood that renters, too, will be able to experience the American dream of homeownership.

Business owners, especially small business owners, benefit because Prop. 13 makes property taxes predictable for businesses, and it helps owners budget and invest in growing their businesses. This helps create jobs and improves the economy. California has ranked dead last among all 50 states in business climate by CEO magazine every year for more than a decade. Prop. 13 is one of the only benefits of doing business in California. …

Click here to read the full article from the Daily Breeze

Big Change in Proposition 13 Could Be Headed To Ballot

Voting BoothsCalifornia’s largest companies could find themselves paying an additional $11 billion a year in property taxes under a ballot measure that would dramatically revise the state’s tax-cutting Proposition 13.

Schools and Communities First, a wide-ranging group of community organizations, education advocates, unions and foundations, turned in 860,000 signatures Tuesday that would put that initiative on the November 2020 state ballot.

Under Prop. 13, all California property, residential and commercial, is reassessed only when it is sold. Houses and condominiums, however, can turn over every few years, while many large businesses occupy their land for decades — meaning some have not had property reassessed since Prop. 13 passed 40 years ago.

The proposed ballot measure calls for a split tax roll that would require commercial and industrial property — but not homes and small businesses — to be regularly reassessed and taxed at their full value. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Proposition 5: The Property Tax Transfer Initiative

property taxProposition 5 will be on the November 6, 2018 statewide ballot and could provide you property tax relief if you are a qualified California homeowner.

If passed, Proposition 5 will extend Proposition 13 property tax benefits.

First, a brief history of property tax propositions:

  • Proposition 13 passed in 1978 making base property tax 1%, with 2% maximum annual increases.
  • Proposition 60 authorized seniors a one-time move of the property tax to another property. In the same county if the new home’s purchase price is equal to or less than the sold dwelling.
  • Proposition 90 allowed counties to accept Proposition 60 property tax basis from a home sold in a different county to be applied to those that accept low property tax transfers. 10 counties have opted into accepting these transfers.

What is being considered today:

  • If passed, Proposition 5 will make it so that those 55 and older will be able to move their Proposition 13 tax benefit to a home of any value, anywhere in California any number of times. Plus, Proposition 5 adds two addition categories of persons: those that lose their home to natural disasters and the permanently disabled homeowners of any age.

If you are thinking of moving call me at 949-616-2988 to discuss your particular circumstance.

Note: this article is not tax or legal advice.

For further details about Proposition 5 and how it may affect you read the information below.

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The California Association of Realtors sponsored the initiative and referred to it as the “People’s Initiative to Protect Proposition 13 Savings.” The California Attorney General describes Proposition 5 as “Changes Requirements for Certain Property Owners to Transfer their Property Tax Base to Replacement Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.”

Starting January 1, 2019 three segments of the population would be enabled to benefit from the passage of Proposition 5, they include: 1) homeowners over 55 with their primary residence in California, 2) homeowners that have had their primary residence substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, as declared by the Governor and 3) any homeowners that are a severely and permanently disabled person.

To fully understand the significance of the 2018 Proposition 5 you will need to have a basic understanding of the Howard Jarvis’s lauded Proposition 13, passed in 1978, along with Proposition 60, passed in 1986, and Proposition 90, passed in 1988.

Proposition 13 made it state law that property tax base rates are 1% of the full cash value, usually the purchase price, (minus the $7,000 homeowners’ exemption) and that the property tax may only increase a maximum of 2% per year.  Proposition 13 defined “full cash value” as the county assessor’s valuation of real property as shown on the 1975-76 tax bill under “full cash value” or the appraised value of real property when purchased, newly constructed, or a change in ownership that occurred after the 1975 assessment.

Proposition 60 allows seniors a one-time opportunity to use the Proposition 13 benefit of having their lower property tax basis transferred to a newly purchased replacement dwelling. Seniors are defined as any person over the age of 55 years and includes a married couple one member of which is over the age of 55 years. The current law in place is that the replacement dwelling must be of equal or lesser value than the dwelling to be sold. Proposition 60 only applies to intra-county primary residence replacements and was enhanced with the passage of Proposition 90.

In 1988, Proposition 90 was passed and enhances the Proposition 60 benefits by allowing counties to opt into allowing Proposition 60 transfers of property tax basis from other counties. Only 10 counties in California have chosen to accept this inter-county property tax bases, they include: Alameda, El Dorado, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura counties.

Proposition 5 would enhance Propositions 60 and 90 by allowing homeowners 55 years of age or older to transfer their Proposition 13 tax basis to a home of any price (proportionally), located anywhere in the state, any number of times. Let me provide a hypothetical example to explain by what I meant by proportionally. Say you purchased your home 21 years ago for $200,000, with a property tax basis of $2,000 and with compounding your property tax basis is now $3,000 and your home is now worth $900,000 and you want to purchase a home for $1,200,000. You sell the less expensive home and purchase the home that costs $300,000 more, your property tax basis from the original home would move with you for the first $900,000 in value and your property tax basic 1% levy would only increase by the difference in the full cash value. Your new property tax would be the $3,000 moved basis plus an additional $3,000 for the property tax on the increased value. Therefore, your property tax base would be $6,000 instead of $12,000 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1, Buy Up Example

Figure 1, Buy Up Example

If you want to buy a less expensive home, your property taxes will be reduced proportionally equal to the original home. Any replacement property of equal or lesser value purchased or newly constructed by a person eligible to transfer the base year value of his or her original property, the base year value of the replacement property will be calculated by dividing the base year value of the original property by the full cash value of the original property, and multiplying the result by the full cash value of the replacement property. If in the same scenario as above, you sold your $900,000 property and purchased a $450,000 home the new property tax would be half of the new sale price or $1,500 per year (see Figure 2). The buy down is a little harder to follow so let me provide a second example. If your existing home sells for $600,000 and your property tax is $2,000 and you purchase a home for $400,000 your new property tax basis would be 1% of one-third of $400,000 or about $1,333.33 per year (see Figure 3).

Figure 2, Buy Down Example 1

Figure 2, Buy Down Example 1

Figure 3, Buy Down Example 2

Figure 2, Buy Down Example 2

The benefits to those that have suffered from having their primary residence substantially damaged or destroyed by a disaster, as declared by the governor, applies to replacement properties that are comparable to the home that was damaged or destroyed without regard to the age of the owner(s). This is explicitly for a replacement property that is located intra-county. Proposition 5 has language indicating that the state Legislature may authorize each county board of supervisors to adopt, after consultation with affected local agencies within the county, an ordinance allowing the transfer of the base year value of property that is located within another county in the State.

The third category of persons that may benefit from the passage of Proposition 5 include any severely and permanently disabled person, who resides in a property that is eligible for the homeowners’ exemption. The property tax base year transfer is also applied to replacement dwellings that are purchased or newly constructed on or after June 6, 1990. The benefit would be in place regardless of the number of prior transfers, the value of the replacement home or whether the replacement dwelling is located within the same county. There are other details, but this gives you a general overview of the three classes of persons that may choose to benefit from the passage of Proposition 5.

The California Association of Realtors believes that if Proposition 5 is approved by California’s voters it would make moving between counties once again affordable for California’s retirees, help victims of officially recognized natural disasters and provide relief to the severely disabled.  These property tax benefits would result in the freeing up of home inventory and encouraging home ownership. If you are considering moving contact me to discuss your unique real estate needs, (949) 616-2988.

John Paul Ledesma, GRI | Broker Associate | HomeSmart Evergreen Realty| DRE 01810644

www.MissionViejoREDispatch.com

Note: this is not tax or legal advice.

©2018 John Paul Ledesma

Teachers’ union leaders grandstand about evil corporations while drawing fat salaries

School union protestAmerican Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten recently pilloried President Trump’s health plan in the Huffington Post: “GOP Rewards The Rich, Rips Off The Rest Of Us,” she declared. Is Weingarten among “the rest of us?” The union leader hauled in $472,197 last year.

Weingarten is hardly the only fat-cat teachers’ union leader. According to the Department of Labor, National Education Association executive director John Stocks bagged $355,721 last year, while NEA president Lily Eskelsen García scraped by on $317,826. At the 2017 California Democratic Party Convention, California Teachers Association president Eric Heins ranted about billionaires without acknowledging his own $317,000 total compensation package. CTA executive director Joe Nunez’s compensation is $460,000; associate ED Emma Leheny makes $480,000, and deputy ED Karen Kyhn gets by on $427,000 yearly. New York City’s United Federation of Teachers boss Michael Mulgrew is practically working class by comparison, making $288,000.

Teachers’ union bosses are obsessed with “corporate” bogeymen. The Janus v.AFSCME case, if decided in the plaintiffs’ favor, will free public employees in 22 states from having to pay any money to a union as a condition of employment. The NEA sees the case as a plot by corporate interests to weaken unions. Schools are “the centers of our communities, not corporate profit centers,” Heins says.

But no one is more willing to invoke the “c” word than United Teachers of Los Angeles president Alex Caputo-Pearl. The UTLA honcho is on a mission to kill Proposition 13 protections for corporations. In a state aptly called “Taxifornia,” Proposition 13 is a desperately needed lifeline, limiting property-tax increases for business and individuals. The UTLA has released a barrage of propaganda in an attempt to close the “corporate property-tax loophole” and “level the playing field.”

Funny how Caputo-Pearl and other union leaders neglect to point out that teachers’ unions are themselves de facto corporations, though with a difference: all their income — money they get from teachers, voluntarily or otherwise — is tax-free. No teachers’ union — or any union — pays a penny in taxes. The unions have oodles of spare cash on hand — and they park a good deal of it with corporations. As teachers’ union watchdog Mike Antonucci writes, the NEA sinks lots of money into mutual funds, which invest in big corporations, including “AT&T, Verizon, Target, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Comcast, Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Microsoft, Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, and Aramark.” The NEA “invests in 9 of the 10 richest corporations in the United States,” Antonucci says.

So union leaders howl about the rich and how corporations don’t pay their “fair share in taxes,” but they support the biggest corporations with their own untaxed income — income that puts many union leaders themselves into the 1 Percent Club.

Split Roll Tax Proposal Bad for Jobs and the Economy

property taxThe California League of Women Voters and other advocates of a split-roll property tax system filed an initiative December 15 that would increase property taxes on California employers by an estimated $11.4 billion per year.

A tax increase of this size will lead to higher consumer prices for goods and services we use every day. In addition to dramatically increasing the cost of living, this misguided measure would drive employers out of California, taking middle-class jobs and future career opportunities with them.

The measure is targeted specifically at California-based employers, and thus would make the Golden State less competitive with other states for jobs and investments. It would add a new section to the California Constitution that would, beginning with the 2020-21 budget year, require commercial and industrial property to be frequently reassessed at full market value.

Proposition 13, approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1978, established an acquisition-value assessment system for the property tax, setting the property tax rate at a maximum of 1 percent, and limiting the amount a taxpayer’s assessed value can increase to 2 percent annually. Under Proposition 13, property also is reassessed when new construction occurs.

Before passage of Proposition 13, taxpayers paid property tax based on county assessors’ opinion of value. Proposition 13 removed subjective opinions and guesswork from the property tax system.

Voters rejected a split-roll measure on the same ballot as Proposition 13, and have rejected several subsequent split-roll proposals.

Since passage of Proposition 13, opponents have claimed that business property receives an unfair benefit from the law. However, state data shows that at the time of Proposition 13’s passage, business properties paid approximately 58 percent of the total property tax burden, while today they pay approximately 62 percent of the property tax burden.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office studied this issue and reported last year:

“Residential, commercial, and industrial properties appear to be turning over at relatively similar rates. … (T)he rate of turnover for residential (including homeowners and rented residential properties) and commercial and industrial properties across the state is relatively similar in recent years. … Comparing the frequency of reassessment across property types in Los Angeles County … suggests that residential properties are not reassessed – and therefore do not turn over –more frequently than commercial and industrial properties. In addition, in San Diego County a typical commercial and industrial property was last reassessed ten years ago, compared to 14 years ago for residential property. This suggests residential properties turnover slightly less often, which increases the tax benefits to these properties.”

resident of the California Taxpayers’ Association.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Could high taxes and crime push California voters to a tipping point?

VotingDespite changing demographics and a sharp veer to the ideological left, is it possible that California could take a political trip back to the future as two staples resurface that drove the state’s politics in the more conservative 1980s and 1990s? Look around and you’ll see indications that even in this liberal bastion on the left coast, the issues of taxes and crime are stirring again.

From the time when cinema’s Doc Brown (Dr. Emmett L. Brown, ably played by Christopher Lloyd) was sending his flux-capacitor equipped DeLorean back in time to today’s California run by Jerry Brown — a past-and-future character if there ever was one — attitudes on the issues of taxes and crime seemed to have shifted dramatically.

Considering recent evidence, one might think that the tax issue has faded from the conscience of Californians, most of whom were not around when the state’s voters kicked off a national tax revolt that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency by overwhelmingly passing property tax-cutting Proposition 13 in 1978.

In a Wall Street Journal piece from a year ago leading up to the 2016 election, I asked, “Nearly 40 years later, many Californians are wondering: Will the tax revolt mind-set die where it all began?”

After all a measure on the 2016 ballot (Proposition 55) extended the highest-in-the nation income tax that voters put in place just four years previously; a cigarette tax passed, as did many local taxes and bonds.

This year’s legislative session included a gas tax increase, the cap-and-trade extension, which many call a tax increase because it raises revenue for the government to spend, and a document tax to fund housing issues. This legislative session probably produced the most pro-tax successes since the 1935 legislature created both a state income tax and a vehicle license fee.

Yet all this tax activity may be driving voters to a tipping point to say enough!

The first indication is the California electorate’s sour reaction to the gas tax. In a University of California Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted after the gas tax increase became law, 58 percent opposed the gas tax, 39 percent solidly opposed. The twelve-cent a gallon tax will not even be collected until November. The negative reaction to the tax seen in the poll likely would increase once the tax adds to the price of gasoline at the pump.

The test of new California resistance to taxes could well occur in November 2018. Two measures to repeal the tax have been filed. A gas tax repeal measure could rally Republican voters to the polls during the general election, especially if no Republican makes the runoff for either of the state’s high-profile offices, governor and United States senator. Since the state’s Republican Party is said to be behind one of the repeal initiative proposals,  polling shows that this is a powerful issue among voters. In addition a Southern California state senator, Democrat Josh Newman, is facing a recall effort centered on his gas tax vote.

The heated debate over extending cap andtrade to reduce greenhouse gases centered on the additional costs that would be felt by California consumers. The word “tax” would have dominated were a word cloud image created over word use frequency during the cap-and-trade debate. Increased costs generated by cap-and-trade demands were labeled a hidden tax.

California citizens have yet to feel the additional costs that the cap-and-trade measure might add—anywhere from fifteen- to seventy-three-cents per gallon of gasoline over time, according to the state’s legislative analyst.

If the gas tax repeal makes the ballot, an interesting political dynamic will play out in defense of the tax. A campaign to preserve the tax would likely have the greatest financial support. The tax was supported by both labor and big business. They argued that California’s economy depends on improved transportation and updated roads and highways. Business also supported the cap-and-trade bill, fearing if it were defeated an unelected California Air Resources Board would put a tougher, command-and-control greenhouse gas restriction in place.

The individual voter who pays the freight of the gas tax increase, additional car fees, and increased costs linked to the cap-and-trade law, however, may want to use the gas tax repeal initiative to send a message.

A rejection of the gas tax increase would certainly be a marker that as liberal as Californians have become, there is still a conservative streak when it comes to taxes and a potent issue from the past could return.

Meanwhile there is the issue of crime—like taxes, also on the rise. A backlash is stirring to changes backed by criminal reform efforts in the legislature and on the ballot.

In response to a court order to reduce prison populations, Governor Jerry Brown championed AB 109 in 2011. Under so-called realignment, certain low-level offenders were moved to county jails from state prisons. In many instances, overwhelmed local jailers were forced to release prisoners from their jails to make room.

Along came two ballot measures, Proposition 47 in 2014 and Proposition 57 in 2016, that downgraded a number of felonies to misdemeanors and fast-tracked the parole process for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes.

Efforts to reform the justice system and reduce prison overcrowding prompted the law changes. Voters are sympathetic to efforts allowing prisoners to achieve rehabilitation. Voters passed both ballot initiatives despite major opposition from the public safety community.

The combination of laws, however, has the law enforcement community warning of a rise in crime with little ability to curb it. Property thefts, forgeries, frauds, illegal drug use, and more under $950 are labeled a consequence-free crime because few arrested for such crimes serve any time, and perpetrators are aware of the situation.

According to a release from the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, “Prop 47 has created a criminal culture where criminals know they face little, or far lesser, punishment for their crimes. Following the passage of AB 109, nearly 25 percent of jail space that could house criminals serving local sentences for property or violent crime is now occupied by those shifted from state prison to local jails to serve their time.”

Law enforcement officials reveal increases in crime as a result of the new laws, but it is the consequences on the street and in people’s lives that have changed the tone of the conversation. If you’re not convinced, take a look at neighborhood websites with constant chatter about break-ins and suspicious activity and how to set up alarm systems and security cameras.

In Sacramento a growing number of neighborhoods fed up with petty crime pooled money to hire private security for public streets. In the inland empire, vehicle thefts jumped from ninth in the nation to fifth in just one year. In the west San Fernando Valley, gang activity has increased 63 percent in two years. A number of California cities are joining in an effort called Taking Back Our Community, a coalition of local governments dedicated to public education and community advocacy surrounding the unintended adverse public safety impacts of recent changes to California’s criminal law.

This surge of activity recalls another time in California history when crime became a major policy and political issue. As noted California historian Kevin Starr wrote in his book, Coast of Dreams, California on the Edge, 1990–2003: “In 1980, California had fewer than 25,000 inmates in a dozen prisons. By January 1998 there were some 154,000 prisoners in 33 prisons.” Californians elected two governors in succession who were tough on crime. Republicans George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson occupied the corner office in the capitol for much of the 1980s and 1990s.

In his first inaugural address in 1983, Deukmejian said, “All the prosperity in the world will not make our society better if our people are threatened by crime. Therefore, it will be the highest priority during my administration to provide all the leadership I can to make California safe again.”

Wilson’s 1994 State of the State Address was one of many to pinpoint the crime issue. He called for get-tough measures against dangerous felons and repeat criminals. He also called for bills that would put three-repeat felons behind bars for good.

The legislature responded by passing a three-strikes law in March, but the people did them one better supporting a three-strikes ballot measure (Proposition 184) in November 1994 that received nearly 72 percent of the vote.

But the crime pendulum shifted with Propositions 47 and 57.

In a Sacramento Bee op-ed published a month before the November 2016 election in hopes of stopping Prop 57, which Wilson argued gutted the three-strikes law, he wrote, “The three-strikes initiative approved in 1994 and other sensible crime- control laws prevented millions of Californians from becoming crime victims. It would be gross dereliction of duty to discard laws that have provided us protection of such proven effectiveness.”

This time he was not as persuasive.

But now that the effects of the crime reform initiatives and state laws are being tallied, that pendulum may be moving back again. Will state politics follow?

Certainly California is in a different place today than three and four decades ago, but growing unease can be detected about the tax and crime issues that dominated politics in that era.

Let’s just say that Jerry Brown, rather than Doc Brown, would recognize the modern social-media terminology associated with the taxes and crime in California.

They’re trending.

ditor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Originally published in EUREKA, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution’s online magazine.

L.A. County Illegally Spending Taxpayer Money on Measure H Ads

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Photo courtesy of channone, flickr

Today, Los Angeles County voters will decide Measure H, a proposed sales tax increase to pay for homeless programs. This tax increase will be in addition to the property tax increase to pay for bonds for homeless programs just enacted by the city of Los Angeles last November with Measure HHH.

If you are wondering why Angelinos should tax themselves even more, you’re asking the right question. California is one of the most heavily taxed states in America with the highest income tax rate, the highest state sales tax and nearly the highest gas costs due to both the high excise tax on each gallon sold plus the additional costs embedded as a result of environmental regulations. And even with Proposition 13, California ranks in the top third among all states in per capita property taxes collected.

The inability of our political leaders to prioritize spending is driving both the state and our major cities into insolvency. If massive spending on homeless programs — assuming it does any good at all — is what the county wants to do, then it should reduce spending on other programs of a lower priority.

To read the entire column, please click here.