Don’t Repeal Prop 218

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Within the body of Joe Mathews’ argument for repealing Proposition 218 he wrote for this site is the precise reason the taxpayer protection measure should continue to stand. Mathews states that the problem with restricting taxing power for local government is that local public officials become spenders but cannot match the liabilities they create with taxes. He writes: “local officials can give big pensions to cops, but don’t have the power to raise taxes to pay for those pensions.” So that’s the reason to eliminate tax restrictions? To allow local officials to have the ability to levy taxes to cover their irresponsible spending habits? I don’t think so.

Nowhere in his piece does Joe counter the history behind Proposition 218 that I noted in my original post on the subject. The situation of misuse of assessment districts and fees was real. Advocates of Proposition 218 (including me) noted in the support argument in the official ballot booklet that we saw as an abuse of the assessment system then in place: assessments ”are now limited only by the limits of human imagination” — to quote a supporter of the flawed system that preceded Prop 218’s fixes.

Imagine how secure taxpayers would feel if Proposition 218 were repealed.

Of course, Joe Mathews makes not secret of his wider agenda – ending Proposition 13. In fact, he co-authored a book that dealt in part about that subject.

Proposition 218 was written to protect end runs around Proposition 13.

Experience has taught us that how something should work in theory is not often the way things work out. Giving politicians full powers without a check from taxpayers might look fine on paper. However, taxpayers need protections from officials who can tax and spend practically at heart’s content. Or as Oliver Wendell Holmes succinctly put it: “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

Experience led to the overwhelming support for Prop 218. Public officials did nothing to correct the systems flaws of misusing assessment districts and fees to fill government treasuries – despite numerous bills introduced in the legislature with a fix in mind. The taxpayer protection provided by Prop 218 must remain in place.

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