Proposition 25 is the latest weapon against Proposition 13, but backers don’t want voters to know it.

Statewide polls taken in recent years consistently show Proposition 13
to be as popular as it was 32 years ago when it passed with nearly
two-thirds of the vote. While the general public supports the landmark
measure with its limitation on property tax increases and requirement
of a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to increase state taxes,
politicians and government employee union leaders continue to see
Proposition 13 as a barrier to their draining every dime from taxpayers.

Writing about the campaign to pass Proposition 13, the measure’s
author, Howard Jarvis, wrote, "Virtually all of the howlers against
Proposition 13 had their noses buried deeply in the public trough. They
were on a gravy train provided by the taxpayers, and they wanted to
ride that train at the taxpayers’ expense until they reached the
promised land of exorbitant pensions for the rest of their lives."

Three decades later, Jarvis’ description of Proposition 13’s opponents
is still accurate – with one important exception. Those who would
destroy Proposition 13 no longer howl against it directly. They have
learned that the public will reject and ridicule their complaints. They
have become more clever, more subtle in their efforts to undermine
Proposition 13. Now, they employ other methods to soften voter resolve
and convince the public to return more control over taxing and spending
to the politicians and there government employee union allies.

Enter Proposition 25, a creation of
ultra-liberal former Senator John Burton. With great fanfare, promoters
of this measure say it will not change the rules to pass new taxes —
all it does is make it easier to pass the state budget — what’s not to

The two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget, which Burton and
others want to lower, dates back to 1933. It has served as an assurance
that, not only will both major parties be considered in spending plans,
but so, too, will all geographic areas of the state.

If all Proposition 25 did was lower the
vote to pass a budget, that would be detrimental enough, but it also
contains language that says that appropriations-related bills can be
passed with a simple majority. To some legal experts this means new
taxes could be approved using this loophole, thereby circumventing
Proposition 13. Add to that the fact that an easy to pass budget would
allow greater spending — risking more debt for our state — and it
becomes clear that Proposition 25 is a witches brew, very damaging to taxpayers.

But that is just the "good" news.

Here is what Proposition 25 is really all
about, in the words of some of its promoters. Talking about eliminating
the two-thirds vote for the budget and for taxes, Senate leader Darrell
Steinberg said, "The question then becomes one of strategy and timing.
Do you try to accomplish it all at once, or do you set a two- to
four-year to six-year plan that takes a big piece or two at a time to

And United Teachers of Los Angeles — a major backer of Proposition 25
along with allied unions CFT and CTA — tells its members, "Further it
will send an important signal that Californians believe in majority
rule and will help set the stage for taking on some of the regressive
elements of Proposition 13."

To Steinberg, Burton and the government employee unions, the
"regressive elements of Proposition 13" are the taxpayer protections it
contains. If Proposition 25 passes, we know what will come next.