Flogging Prop 13

Loren Kaye

President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education


Peter Schrag today praises Joel Fox with faint damnation. Schrag claims that the F&H editor was "partially right" in complaining "vociferously about people who he thought blamed too many of California’s problems on Proposition 13."

He further concedes that Howard Jarvis cannot be held responsible for earthquakes and wildfires. But that seems to be the extent of his absolution. Schrag identifies nearly every major post-1978 public policy affront as the progeny of Prop 13. Not just tax limitations but the adoption of term limits, anti-crime initiatives, and the stem cell boondoggle. It’s as if – if not for Proposition 13 – the California public (not to mention interest groups) would never have discovered this obscure constitutional power to legislate by popular initiative.

I suppose that makes Howard Jarvis – not a "fuming curmudgeon," in Schrag’s words – but the Hiram Johnson of his day. (On the other hand, it turns out Governor Johnson was quite the curmudgeon, as well.)

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