Tomorrow is a sad milestone.
the fourth anniversary of the passing of Barbara Anderson, the
longtime head of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a fierce defender
of her landmark achievement, the 1980 Proposition 2½ ballot
initiative that put a lid on soaring property taxes.
Barbara would surely be turning in her grave if she knew about an
emerging threat to her policy baby.
Proposition 2½ was inspired by what California had done two years
earlier when they passed Proposition 13, an even tighter cap on
property tax hikes. But now that law is under siege by
public-employee unions - bankrolled by Mark Zuckerberg - who want to
discard its commercial tax limits as a warm up, their critics claim,
to going after the property tax break.
no less an expert than Chip Ford, the current head of CLT and
Barbara Anderson’s longtime colleague, fears the same thing may
happen here. The imminent depletion of the rainy-day fund and the
drain on local finances caused by the pandemic sets the stage for
dramatic revenue shortfalls. Could a resurgent economy amid public
gratitude for state and local government’s handling of the crisis
clear the way for a Prop 2½ takedown?
California could once again be the canary in the coal mine. In a nod
to the famous Rahm Emanuel quote about never letting a good crisis
“go to waste,” Ford notes the chronic pressure on Beacon Hill to
ease Prop. 2½ limitations, most recently seen in language in the
huge education funding bill that calls for a study of “mitigating”
the tax cap’s impact.
the kind of maneuver Anderson battled for decades, an endless game
of whack-a-tax. And in an ominous sign for CLT, Ford says they asked
Gov. Baker to veto that language in the ed bill, but he refused.
Says Ford: “I’ve given up counting on him for anything.”
May 20, 1999
Jon Keller, political commentator of WLVI TV-56,
receives the 7th Warren T. Brookes Award
from Barbara Anderson, executive director of CLT