Cross-posted on CalWatchDog
The tax obsessives just won’t leave Proposition 13 alone. The 1978 tax limitation measure prevents excessive tax increases on property.
The latest assaults come from two sources. The first is the California Budget Project (for Massive Tax Increases). A new study claims school spending has crashed for a decade:
“California schools’ reliance on the state budget reflects passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which fundamentally changed how schools receive their dollars. Between 1970-71 and 1977-78, California schools received the largest share of their revenue from the local property tax; however, since Proposition 13 schools have received the majority of their dollars from the state….”
“State cuts to education spending combined with California schools’ substantial reliance on state dollars helps explain the widening gap between the resources available to California schools and those of the rest of the US.”
The second source is Bloomberg.com, the news source run by far-left multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Having boosted taxes to slam New York City, where he’s been mayor the past decade, his aim now is to hit California.
According to Forbes, Bloomberg’s current net worth is $18.1 billion. If this guy is concerned about New York City and California budget problems, why doesn’t he solve them by donating a couple billion of his fortune to solving the problems?
Instead, on Bloomberg.com, his columnist Christopher Palmeri attacks middle-class taxpayers:
“California voters approved Proposition 13 to rein in property taxes that had doubled in 10 years. More than three decades later, that rebellion has mortgaged the state’s future, saddling it with the nation’s highest debt and lowest credit rating.”
But it’s spendthrift Democratic legislatures and Democratic and Republican governors — especially Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and Bloomberg’s good buddy, fellow Republican “Middleman” Arnold Schwarzenegger — who “mortgaged the state’s future, saddling it with the nation’s highest debt and lowest credit rating.” They did so by going on wild spending binges.
Under Democrat Davis and the Democratic Legislature, California General Fund spending soared an incredible 15 percent from fiscal 1998-99, then another incredible 15 percent the next year, 1999-2000.
And under Republican Schwarzenegger and the Democratic Legislature, spending then zoomed up another 15 percent from fiscal 2004-05, then another 10 percent from fiscal 2005-06.
No amount of taxing could have paid for such profligacy.
The state’s fiscal problems stem from such wild spending, which just couldn’t be sustained when the inevitable economic recessions came — the dot-com bust of the late 1990s, and the Real Estate Bubble bust that began in 2007 and continues.
All Prop. 13 did was keep the economic calamity from being worse.
And let’s not forget what was happening back in 1978. Grandmas were being evicted from their homes because they couldn’t pay the soaring property-tax gauging’s.
Moreover, from 1973-78, tax reformers tried to pass reasonable tax reductions. The far-left Democratic Legislature and nutty, far-left Gov. Moonbeam refused — sparking the tax revolt led by Howard Jarvis.
To preserve his re-election chances that November and to boost his future presidential chances, after Prop. 13 passed in June 1978, Brown declared himself a “born-again tax-cutter.” And in his 1992 presidential bid, he even advocated a national flat tax.
But as we see this year, deep down, in his heart-of-hearts, he’s really a tax increaser.
Bloomberg/Palmeri continue a theme similar to that of the California Budget Project:
“The measure led to reductions that dropped per-student school spending from seventh to 29th nationally, prompted cities to pursue sprawling retail development to compensate for lost revenue, and pushed the state into budget gridlock, including a $705 million revenue shortfall announced Oct. 10, by requiring two-thirds approval for any tax increase.”
As I reported last year, LAUSD’s per-pupil spending — if everything is included — actually is nearly an incredible $30,000 per year.
And the commonly cited studies of “low” education spending only look at school budgets. Earlier this year a Pepperdine University Davenport Institute study looked at audits of what schools actually spend, as reported to the state government. The result:
“[O]ver the last several years, the expression ‘budget cuts’ has been heard often regarding K-12 public school district expenditures in California,” according to the report, co-sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce. “In reality, total expenditures (excluding Capital Expenditures) have increased every year from FY 2003-04 through FY 2007-08, before leveling off in FY 2008-09. (If Capital expenditures are included, Total Expenditures have increased every Fiscal Year).”
As my colleague Steven Greenhut noted in January of the Pepperdine study:
“Expenditures have gone up, not down. And this has taken place even though the number of students has fallen. Actually, the amount of money spent on teacher salaries and benefits has decreased slightly, but the amount on administrators and bureaucracy has gone up. Direct in-classroom expenditures have dropped. Steven Frates, who directed the study, argued that the state can save much money by reallocating the way the public education system spends its money. Huge savings could be realized simply by freezing the pay and benefits for administrators.”
So, it’s really the same old problem: The state incompetently spending copious money taken from taxpayers.
Then there are the dismal results, such as the 40.6 percent high school graduation rate in the LAUSD schools, second worst in the country after Detroit. And the hundreds of remedial classes at Cal State and community colleges just to get high school graduates up to speed on the basics of math and English.
At Cal State Dominguez Hills, six of seven entering freshmen need remedial courses. What in the name of Hirman Johnson were they doing those 13 years they were in the public schools? How hard is it to teach reading and basic math?
If these schools were private-sector businesses, they long ago would have gone bankrupt. Yet, despite decades of abject failure, we’re supposed to feed them more tax dollars by repealing Prop. 13 and throwing grandmas onto the streets.