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The Fight of Our Lives

by: Robert Cruickshank

Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 09:00:00 AM PST


See several important updates below.

At yesterday's education budget meeting in Los Angeles, educators from across the state took to the microphone to tell Governor-elect Jerry Brown that schools cannot accept more funding cuts without the system collapsing. And Brown, along with Treasurer Bill Lockyer and other state officials, explained that while they understood full well that California's schools have already been cut to the bone and are funded worse than in almost every other state, there's not going to be any avoiding those cuts - unless new revenues are approved.

I've written before about the California Impasse - the desire of voters for better public services, their openness to new taxes to fund those services, and their hesitation to actually pull the trigger, at least statewide. As was pointed out several times at the event, majorities of voters have shown willingness to tax themselves for schools, but the 2/3rds rule for parcel taxes has blocked these from being successful.

Jerry Brown pointed out that voters statewide aren't yet willing to accept new taxes for programs, and we saw that during the November 2010 election. Yet he also noted that California is an extremely wealthy state, the 8th largest economy in the world, with a GDP of over $1 trillion. Closing a $28 billion gap with new revenues, just 2.8% of that GDP, should not be a problem.*

So how to resolve the impasse? You have to give Californians a very clear choice: have low taxes and ruined schools, or get our act together and raise the necessary revenues we need to responsibly run our state. In his role as Jacob Marley, he is going to show Californians the error of our past ways, why acting like Scrooge toward our schools, our health care, our parks and our transportation systems is going to produce a nightmarish future. And then he will leave it up to us to make the right choice.

The plan appears to be this: push through an all-cuts budget in early 2011, perhaps shutting down programs like CalWORKS and making massive cuts to K-12 education, and then go to voters with new taxes at a spring special election, and letting California decide what's more important to them: good schools or low taxes.

The strategy is very risky, as Dan Walters rightly points out:

Even before he could seek new taxes from voters, however, Brown would also have to persuade his fellow Democrats in the Legislature to vote for a slash-and-burn budget. And that could be extraordinarily difficult because Democrats would be getting pressure from their political constituencies, such as public employee unions, and be facing uncertain re-elections in 2012 because of redrawn districts and a new "top-two" primary system.

Were Brown's doomsday strategy to fall short, he'd be stuck with an even worse budget mess and virtually no option other than following through with deep spending slashes in schools and other public services.

Democratic legislators will want some kind of safeguard in any slash-and-burn budget. And getting the legislature to approve putting a tax proposal on the ballot - which I believe requires a 2/3rds vote** - would be very difficult given Republican obstruction. But this strategy seems to be the only way to break the impasse.

This battle will be, by a wide margin, the most important political battle fought in my lifetime (realize, of course, that I was born a year after Prop 13's passage) in California. It is a fight progressives cannot afford to lose. We've been talking about how to change the public conversation about government and taxes for quite a while - now we have no choice but to execute that strategy, and we have six months at best to do it.

No pressure or anything.

UPDATE: Steve Harmon's article on this, which quotes me, also includes a telling Jerry Brown quote about this plan, and about the need for progressives to step up and take the lead in educating voters:

"Temporary taxes need to be extended," said Joel Shapiro, superintendent for South Pasadena schools. "Absolutely, we can't do without revenues. We need to educate the voters of California "... that the only way to keep the education system from deteriorating worse is to increase revenues, taxes or fees."

But Brown appeared slightly miffed at the tone Shapiro took toward voters.

"You say we've got to educate them -- in some ways, they've got to educate us," Brown said. "It's not really a we/them. It's society. There's a lot of hostility to government. They look at the city of Bell, they pick up the paper and see firefighters getting a $250,000 pension. There's a lot of skepticism about government in the political process. That's a reality and we have to take the world as we find it and we have to work through it."

There's no doubt about the truth of Brown's words. That skepticism of government is exactly what the right will play upon in their effort to defeat these new revenues. We must be ready.

UPDATE 2: Dan Walters writes with some very important clarifications about two points I marked with asterisks above.

* On California's GDP:

First, the deficit is actually more like 1 percent of the state's economy as I pointed out in a recent column and Jerry cribbed on Tuesday. The economy is $1.9 trillion (2009, Department of Commerce) and the structural deficit is $20B.

That just makes the point even clearer - a tax increase of about $20 billion would secure our public services for years to come with a very tiny impact on our economic activity. Surely 1% of our GDP can be harnessed to fund the services that we must have for broadly shared prosperity in this state.

** On how Democrats can pass a budget and propose new revenues without a single Republican vote:

Secondly, it would not necessarily take two-thirds vote to place taxes before voters. It could be done in special session that Arnie has already called on simple majority votes and would be framed as an amendment to an existing statutory tax initiative, such as Steinberg's income tax surtax for mental health. In fact framing it as amendment to existing tax initiative may be only way to place taxes before voters because that's the pathway allowed in the state constitution. It was used for 2009 tax-related measures.

Anyway, Jerry and Dems could pass new budget with simple majority vote (Prop 25) and ballot measure by same vote in special session, then adjourn session and wait 90 days for election. Any non-urgency bill passed in special session takes effect 90 days after session ends. That's the way it could, and probably will, be done to have election in May (perhaps coincident with LA city election) or June.

Awesome. Democrats can do all of this without Republicans, which is fitting given their irrelevance to California politics these days. Let them carp from the sidelines as Democrats and progressives get to work building public support for a real and sensible solution to our state's budget woes.

Robert Cruickshank :: The Fight of Our Lives
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I can't say that I like It (5.00 / 1)
But, What other choice do Californians have? Even Arnold never tried this, But then He liked wishful thinking and Gimmicks and those don't pay the bills. And I think It's about time that Californians got a bucket full of Ice Water in the face, As they need to wake up. As You can't expect to get something for nothing. Funding of Schools should be returned to the local level(County or if It's big enough, a City level).

It's appropriate for school funding (5.00 / 1)
to be at the state level, because there are whole counties that don't have the same economic base as the cities. And yet, the cities depend on the rural counties for food, recreation, and some industry.

Kids everywhere in the state deserve an appropriate education, and it's the way to create more economic activity in rural areas.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
By all means, ignore an entire new industry willing to pay taxes (4.00 / 1)
Since we're in the fight of our lives maybe it's time to think outside the box a little bit.

If we could ignite some spark of intelligence among the political class the cannabis industry would love to start picking up some of the slack.

If cannabis prohibition, which is based to a large degree on propaganda and prejudices is toxic to ideals of democracy, why don't we kill two birds with one stone and legalize it through the state legislature rather than the ballot box?

I'm really getting tired of our state's politicians pretending there isn't a new source of funding out there.  


Even taxing cannabis needs a 2/3rds vote (0.00 / 0)
Minority rules!

[ Parent ]
That's easy to solve (4.50 / 2)
Legalize with almost no restrictions with 50%+1 with a 6 month future implementation date, then submit the "Marijuana Tax and Control Act" containing reasonable restrictions and taxes based upon current laws around Tobacco and Alcohol.  No way Republicans want to go into a primary with "He voted against restricting the sale of Marijuana to children" hanging over their heads.

[ Parent ]
Mendocino county is trying to save (0.00 / 0)
6 sheriff deputy positions with marijuana fees.  

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

[ Parent ]
My Fears (0.00 / 0)
I am not sanguine that this will turn out well.  When these propositions are put forward, there will be arguments that they're the "wrong" taxes, etc.  We saw this with the dedicated auto registration fee for the state parks this past election -- it didn't even get 50% of the vote, much less the two thirds required.

What revenue increase will be proposed?  Income tax increase?  Corporate tax?  These will all be attacked as "job killers."  Fees specific to families with children in school? That exacerbates class based public schooling.

Even if we find something that has support, if it only has 66.5% support -- it fails!

If Jerry "Jacob Marley" Brown doesn't include a ballot proposition that eliminates these 2/3rds requirements (and that ballot proposition may not need 2/3rds to pass?) then he's not really addressing the real problem.


You're wrong; majority rule for most ballot measures (0.00 / 0)
    Statewide initiatives, even initiative constitutional amendments do not need 2/3 to pass. This has been a problem because sometimes initiatives that are passed with a simple majority require two-thirds for other things. Prop 26 this November was an example of this.

[ Parent ]
ACA 9 (Gatto) (5.00 / 1)
Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) has introduced a constitutional amendment, ACA 9, which would require any initiative creating a new 2/3 rule to first be approved by 2/3 itself.  

[ Parent ]
Can someone please link to a definitive source on supermajority requirements in California? (0.00 / 0)
All I know is that the legislature must get 2/3 to increase taxes & fees, local school parcel taxes must get 2/3, and local schools bonds must get 55%.

California is conspicuously missing from this table of state that require a supermajority to pass ballot propositions.
http://www.ncsl.org/default.as...


that is because it doesn't require supermajorities (0.00 / 0)
 except on the local stuff you mentioned.

[ Parent ]
No on new taxes - from a progressive (4.00 / 1)

I would vote no for new taxes. And I will explain why.

I am already in the top tax bracket of 9.3%. But that is not the real reason I am against raising taxes.

It is my property taxes that is the problem. By virtue of having bought a house in the last decade, my property taxes are in the same range as  my income taxes.

There is no way I'm going to support raising taxes, unless Prop 13 is abolished. All around me I see rich, old people who pay a pittance in property taxes, but sit on enormous wealth.

I would bet that most of the young families, who bought houses in the last decade will do exactly the same thing.

This idea that the hole created by the unjust and regressive property taxes can somehow be filled by more regressive increases in income taxes or sales taxes will meet with stiff opposition from my class - even if we believe in progressive taxes and government for good.

Abolish prop 13, or tax the hell out of real estate gains. That will be just and will get my support.


Property taxes (5.00 / 2)
  The clear solution is to raise corporate property taxes and lower residential property taxes.  The share of property taxes paid by corporations has gone from 60% to 40% since
Prop 13 (I'm quoting this from memory).

[ Parent ]
A split tax roll would work too (5.00 / 2)
There's a lot of support for amending prop. 13 limits for commercial property. This is usually referred to as "split roll" because it splits the way taxes are applied to residential vs. commercial property. Since commercial property is owned differently, it doesn't turn over as often as residential, and doesn't trigger raises in the tax rate as a consequence. This change could do a lot to help California's budget woes.

[ Parent ]
split tax would be the easiest reform to pass (0.00 / 0)
although it leaves the residential rate generational ripoff of prop 13 untouched.  

[ Parent ]
Who cares (4.67 / 3)
Sorry dude, we're not here to cater to your whining. Yes, it would be nice if we fixed Prop 13. But we have bigger fish to fry. The most regressive thing to do - by far - is to let massive cuts happen to schools.

Elminating CalWORKS? More regressive than higher sales or income taxes.

Eliminating Medi-Cal? More regressive than higher sales or income taxes.

Eliminating Cal Grants? More regressive than higher sales or income taxes.

Eliminating IHSS? More regressive than higher sales or income taxes.

Shall I go on?

While you sit there demanding a perfect plan, we're going to go out and implement a truly progressive fix that helps people without giving a damn thing to the right. Barack Obama could learn a thing or two. We'd love your vote, but if you're going to pout in the corner, whatever, we don't really give a fuck.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
He raises a valid point (5.75 / 4)

Which makes me think you're being kind of hard on him.

The valid point not being "OMG, enough with the taxes."  The valid point is that there will be many people who feel there's an injustice (and there is!) and we'll lose those votes.  That's not good.

I can think of two revenue measures that would be very popular (I think?!) and that could make the point that it's not just all coming out of the hide of the middle class.  One is to close the commercial property tax loophole so that they're paying their fair share.  Two is oil company payments I remember hearing about, royalties or fees for drilling rights or something like that which they haven't paid in years.

In drafting the new taxes ballot measure, they should take a leaf out of the anti-supermajority measure that just passed.  People I talked to were so pleased about legislators having their pay docked if they didn't pass a budget, they didn't even care a simple majority would make it easier to pass taxes.  Those new taxes need to include a line that will let voters vent spleen.


[ Parent ]
Sorry (6.00 / 3)
We're talking about California's future here. I give no quarter to people who are willing to let the state burn down because the tax system isn't perfect and doesn't cater to their own personal demands.

I'm all for both of those revenue solutions - the split roll and the oil severance tax (which is what you're thinking about).

But the guy's argument was basically "I'm taxed enough already." I get it, Prop 13 screws newer buyers. I have made that argument countless times myself.

Still, we do not have the ability to wait around to make a perfect tax system. If we can fix Prop 13 while we're at it, great. If not, we have to stop California from collapsing.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
You can express that sentiment (5.00 / 2)
and point out why it's to his advantage to have a desirable and functional California, without saying, "No one cares about you."

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

[ Parent ]
You are welcome (5.00 / 1)
>We'd love your vote, but if you're going to pout in the corner, whatever, we don't really give a fuck.

I'll gladly oppose you and fight this out.

You think that people like me should be paying for fixing the state budget, while old rich people, millionaires and corporations slack off. That  the middle class should pay for the needy, not the rich.  

As for teaching Barack Obama -- what you are doing is nothing different from him. He also has the same policy. Raise taxes on the middle class to support the needy, and leave Wall Street and millionaires alone.

So let's duke it out at the polls.


[ Parent ]
Nice straw man (0.00 / 0)
Show me where I said this:

"You think that people like me should be paying for fixing the state budget, while old rich people, millionaires and corporations slack off. That  the middle class should pay for the needy, not the rich."

Until you can show me where I said that, or retract that claim, you do not deserve a further response. Argue honestly. Don't make shit up to defend yourself.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
"Sorry dude, we're not here to cater to your whining. " (5.00 / 2)
A tax fight that starts with progressives telling middle-class CA homeowners that they are Club for Growth whiners if they bring up reasonable arguments on tax fairness and efficiency is a fight you are going to lose.

We'd love your vote, but if you're going to pout in the corner, whatever, we don't really give a fuck.

How many losses is it going to take (Props 13, 187, 8, 24) before progressives realize that the key to winning the big soft political middle of this state is via empathy and smart positioning that demonstrates how supporting the progressive choice is also "looking out for #1".  Yes, voters are selfish... that is the whole point of a democracy!  You (the royal you of left-liberal CA Democrats) need to stop bitching about the fact that Republicans win this game ("Tax cuts for the top 1% help you!  Everybody is in the top 1%!") and engage them to fight for these votes.

Ideological purity tests that end with "we don't really give a fuck." aren't gonna overturn Prop 13.


[ Parent ]
It wasn't a reasonable argument (0.00 / 0)
As anyone who has read my work here over the last several years should know, I have been very consistent in saying we need to tax the shit out of the rich and the big corporations. Anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant of my writing or is dishonest.

That being said, the middle-class can afford to pay more as well. Not a whole lot more, but a bit more. I'm open to discussion on what exactly that looks like.

As I read that guy's comment, he was saying "unless I get property tax relief I'm not supporting any new revenues." Sorry bub, we can't afford to cater to your whim. He has a home. He has food on the table. He has some ability to get health care.

Many other Californians have none of these things, and the revenue measures on a special election ballot would help provide them - and would help others avoid losing them. So no, his property tax levels, which are fucked up thanks to Prop 13 but nevertheless appear to be affordable, are not a good excuse for making other people suffer.

I am all for fixing the entire tax system. I am also realistic enough to realize that we aren't going to achieve that in a single special election, and that we shouldn't hold everything up to achieve it. If one random dumbass on a blog gets upset about it, I really don't care. We don't need his vote anyway.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
"We don't need his vote anyway." (5.00 / 2)
I think tate's situation and feelings on this matter represent a lot more than "one random dumbass on a blog".  If you are willing to write off "middle-class white-collar workers who bought a house between 1995 and 2009" then you better have a crapload of "public employee union members who rent" in your back pocket if you want to get the votes to jack rates.

It's very noble of you to volunteer other people to give up their income to pay for programs you support and to bail out public pensions.  If your attitude to voters is "fuck you if you don't want to pay more" and not "here is a comprehensive tax and budget reform that makes you think you are getting an ok deal" you will continue to give the California GOP aid and comfort they don't deserve.


[ Parent ]
How am I writing them off? (0.00 / 0)
He's demanding a special deal that it does not appear likely we can provide for the special election.

His argument is "either cut my property taxes or I'll join the right-wing in voting against the special election tax proposals." I'm sorry, no, that's not an acceptable negotiating tactic.

If he wants to approach this constructively, I'm all ears. If he says "my way or the highway" then yes, he can fuck off. The middle-class is lightly taxed in this state, even homeowners. The special election proposals would not likely add a burden he could not afford to pay, while helping people in much worse situations than his.

I am not sorry for refusing to kiss his white middle-class ass. If he wants to reform the tax system, he has to drop the "my way or nothing" approach.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
Make the tax rates more progressive. (5.00 / 3)
One major problem with California's tax system is that there is only one tax rate (9.3%) for incomes between $46,766 and $1,000,000.  This is stupefying, and should be directly addressed in any ballot measure this year.

It seems to me that individuals making $600,000 or $800,000 per year could afford to pay a higher tax rate than people making $47,000.   I bet it seems that way to most voters, also.

If this type of reform is included in the revenue measure in the special election, it will have a good chance of passing.


[ Parent ]
yes. this is especially good (5.00 / 2)
in that it will give people hard numbers to compare their incomes against. the same fix would help a lot at the national level as well.

another thing that would be nice, if impossible to get on the ballot, would be to replace prop 13's property system of tax rates set by when you bought the house with a system that sets property tax rates progressively relative to one's income. so your overall property taxes would be lower if you had a low income but the property values had soared since you bought the house decades ago, but would be much higher if you had an expensive house and also a high income.  


[ Parent ]
property tax idea (0.00 / 0)
I like It and I'll bet others would too, Get enough people together, write the new law right and 13 is doomed.

[ Parent ]
That would help a lot if (5.00 / 1)
you can figure out a fair algorithm.

One reason that property tax is popular with states is because (a) you can't hide it from taxation and (b) it gives you steadier tax bases. If you tie to income, you give up a bit of (a) and (b).

Property tax is really awful for the unemployed or underemployed.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
Sorry, it's 9.55%, not 9.3%. Same point applies. n/t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Sure seems like you (5.00 / 2)
Are making the "my way or the highway" argument right back at him.


[ Parent ]
Dude (5.00 / 1)
He may have a home now, but if he didn't make his (say) $3k  1/2 property tax payment on a median 2004 home last week, he won't for long. And there's another $3k payment due April 10.

And how are you sure he has access to health care?

Please don't underestimate that this can be a real hardship for people in the middle class who are making a bit - or a lot - less money than last year, and likely with higher expenses.

(I try just to think of it as school tuition so I'm less grumpy.)

We need every single vote, and not everyone reads you every day. You know I appreciate you, but a little empathy is free. Spend it more often.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
"middle class" as free-floating signifier (0.00 / 0)
so someone who pays the top income tax bracket, pays a ton in property tax (because the house is most likely worth a ton), and is in his own words "surrounded by old rich people"  calls himself middle class and thus does not want to pay any more taxes, and we all sort of accept that if he feels like an overtaxed middle class voter, that he must be representative of the middle class.

median household income in CA is $58,000, and the top income bracket is $94,000. butbutbut it's hard to live on a high salary in california! yeah, and even harder to live on a low salary in california, and yet that's who's going to get shafted the hardest if we go to an all-cuts budget.

a lot of rich people think of themselves as middle class, especially when complaining about the taxes they pay, but that doesn't mean they are middle class.  


[ Parent ]
Responses (0.00 / 0)
I do find the responses interesting

-Sell your house
?? The current state of the housing market is not exactly a secret. Even if the market is going gangbusters, sell my house to reduce taxes? I guess the same argument could have been made when  Prop 13 was up for vote in 1970.

>>Until you can show me where I said that, or retract that claim, you do not deserve a further response. Argue honestly. Don't make shit up to defend yourself
Here
by: Robert Cruickshank @ Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 17:27:31 PM CST >>>That being said, the middle-class can afford to pay more as well. Not a whole lot more, but a bit more.

>>so someone who pays the top income tax bracket, pays a ton in property tax (because the house is most likely worth a ton), and is in his own words "surrounded by old rich people"  calls himself middle class and thus does not want to pay any more taxes,

"surrounded by old rich people" : that's a figurative term of speech. Sorry you didn't get that. Property taxes are publicly available online. For enquiring minds, it does not take much effort to see property taxes for any property in the state.

>>pays the top income tax bracket :
see comment by: DavidT @ Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 02:03:35 AM CST

>>pays a ton in property tax (because the house is most likely worth a ton)
Isn't that the problem ? That people who bough recently pay high property taxes and have larger debt than people who bought before?  You are saying that this somehow benefits them?  
That I had to pay too much (i.e more of my income on debt payments) to buy the same house, and pay 5-10 times in property taxes than the previous owner? Somehow the "house is most likely worth a ton" makes me richer than the previous owner (and those who bought more than a decade ago?).
You are arguing my case here. "House worth a ton" only benefits people who bought before the bubble (and are sitting on significant cap gains) and have a low Prop 13 basis locked in.

>>His argument is "either cut my property taxes or I'll join the right-wing in voting against the special election tax proposals." I'm sorry, no, that's not an acceptable negotiating tactic.

Strawman. I made one specific proposal - tax the hell out of real estate gains. According the tax expenditure report http://www.dof.ca.gov/Research... Table 1, page 6, that is worth about 4 billion dollars. There could be many more. Why not eliminate the mortgage interest deduction (another 4 billion dollars, I can support that)? If not, cap all of these deductions? There are many ways that the Prop 13 inequity can be addressed without fixing Prop 13.

>>But the guy's argument was basically "I'm taxed enough already." I get it, Prop 13 screws newer buyers. I have made that argument countless times myself.

Your entire attitude is, "I don't care if you have to pay more". That is, "you are not paying enough". Which is the opposite of "taxed enough already". You don't get it.

>>Nobody is forcing you to pay those property taxes. And as far as I can tell, you are paying them without losing your home or starving.

What a winner. So, as long as you are not starving, or losing your home, you can pay more in taxes?  Let me turn this  on it's head. Policemen, firemen, teachers, and govt employees can can take a paycut, get less in pensions, and still keep their home and not starve. Seeing the salaries some of these people make, in the 100k+ range, that will seem perfectly reasonable to much of the electorate.

And by wu_ming's rule (median income is 58K in California), these are very rich people. The median income is 58K in California

A lot of presumptions have been made here about me. "Rich", "white", "piqued". Does that matter at all? The only question of relevance is "Are you taxed enough already?"

I am saying that
(1) anyone who bought a house in the last decade will answer "Yes"
(2) a lot of the "right", will always answer "yes" to that question.

The group in (1), have valid, just reason to answer "yes". You can of course say "fuck you, we don't care". It does nothing to address the legitimacy of that claim. You are making a bet you can win without them.

We're talking past each other at this point. As a long time reader of Calitics, I commented on this topic, since it is important to me. But some disagreements can only be resolved at the polls. So be it.

Special mention:

--"to be so blithe about sending the state you live in into full melt-down mode out of pique over an admittedly stupid tax law."
--but this "i don't feel like i should pay any more so i'm going to pick up my ball and go home" attitude will be treated as the howard jarvis-enabling talking point that it is.
--his property tax levels, which are fucked up thanks to Prop 13 but nevertheless appear to be affordable, are not a good excuse for making other people suffer.
--you would vote to reject a tax hike necessary to keep the state govt from collapse because you feel like you pay too much in taxes already

The last time something like this happened - "we should bail out the banks, because otherwise the economy would collapse and people will suffer", we found ourselves with footing the bill, and no change at all. No change at all.

So "pay a little more, to keep things running", and then change will come? I call bull on that.


[ Parent ]
if you cannot see the difference between bailing out wall street (5.00 / 2)
and paying a bit more in taxes to keep a state government running without draconian cuts, then you really do not get it.

noone's arguing with you that prop 13 is unfair, screws young people, should be abolished, and shifts the burden of taxation from the rich to the less rich. noone, not on this blog. we all agree with that.

what you're getting slammed for is advocating for voting no on a budget fix unless your property taxes are lowered, even though a failure to raise those taxes, in whatever form they take (and we're all going to be doing everything we can to advocate for progressive and not regressive taxes), will mean severe shock to the state and everyone who relies upon public services to get by in this crappy economy.

and rightfully so. it smacks of privilege, to dismiss the suffering of people with less than you just because the system isn't ideal for you. that attitude, and the real world consequences of what will happen to people without a good income and an expensive house, are why you're getting no respect for your complaints, even though the same people are totally sympathetic to the policy changes you're advocating.

get that?


[ Parent ]
Wait just a second (8.00 / 1)
You're coming here saying "taxed enough already" and expect us to take you seriously while you spout Tea Party talking points?

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

[ Parent ]
Irresponsible Home Owners? (0.00 / 0)
Earlier, you said something about how your property tax is as much as your state income tax:  9% of your income.

Prop-13 says that The maximum amount of any ad valorem tax on real property shall not exceed one percent (1%) of the full cash value of such property.

Therefore, your property's full cash value is at least nine times your income.  Either you have enough wealth that a small increase in taxes would not be an issue, or this is an irresponsible purchase on your part.


[ Parent ]
Or maybe it means (5.00 / 1)
he lost a job or got a divorce. Maybe the new job does not pay as much.

Saying, "Gosh, you're irresponsible for paying so much of your income in taxes" is probably not a good way to gain votes.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
Based on the poster's original comment (0.00 / 0)
It is my property taxes that is the problem. By virtue of having bought a house in the last decade, my property taxes are in the same range as  my income taxes.

I made my assessment based on the poster's original comment.  He or she did not mention a lost job or a divorce.  That would change the equation.

However, if it was a property bought that can't realistically be afforded, then, while I have sympathy (because of the scandalous and deceptive practices of the mortgage companies) I stand by my point.

It is difficult to fully understand another's financial position without full information, but as a sniff-test, a recently purchased house valued at nine-times income doesn't make sense.  Even if you can afford it at the time, you may put yourself at risk of shocks to your income.

If you're paying 9.3% of your income in property tax, then you should consider downsizing.  


[ Parent ]
9% is not at the first dollar (0.00 / 0)
Even though I have income taxed in the 9% bracket, I pay a lot less than 9% of my gross or even my taxable income in state income tax.

He said the amounts were roughly equal, not that they were 9% of his gross.


Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
Also said (0.00 / 0)
The original poster also said:

Try paying 18% of your salary in state property taxes, and then come back and say it is 'pique'.

You are correct that the income tax isn't on the first dollar.  So, the poster's property tax is even higher than 9% of salary, according to the original poster.  


[ Parent ]
True (0.00 / 0)
He probably didn't do the math correctly.

If you're paying  say $5k in property taxes and also paying $5k in state income tax, that's a taxable income over $100k ... probably a gross income on order $150k.

But that's still less than 10% of your gross income for both.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
Like I said (0.00 / 0)
I can only base my estimates on what the original poster has posted.  He (or she) may have gotten the math wrong.  

[ Parent ]
State income tax is not 9% from the first dollar (0.00 / 0)
First, your taxable income may be quite a bit less than gross, and then there is the progressive step to the top rate.

My state income taxes are far less than my property taxes.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
Median household income is $58k (0.00 / 0)
but that includes students and retirees.

A more typical income for a family with working age parents is around $80k, and indeed, there's a study that shows that's the minimum income to get by without subsidy.

I think rather than go on the "You could be worse off" line, it's better to talk about how cutting services to the poor increases emergency costs and how it lowers property values and how it makes the state less attractive to workers and business and how it increases costs for the middle class.

For example, cuts to schools mean that many schools this year are going 5 fewer days.

Working families with kids will probably end up with an extra $200 in expenses per child for a camp or day care. The kids get a lower quality of care ... and it costs the parents more than if they paid that money to schools.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
Giving up federal matching funds (6.00 / 3)
Not to mention that many of the programs you list qualify for federal matching funds. Cutting state spending will curtail the federal funds, knocking an even bigger hole in revenues.

[ Parent ]
It's an extremely valid point (5.00 / 1)
My neighbor has more land than me and pays about 1/8 of the property tax I do.

His is on order a cable bill. Mine is on order a second rent payment.

Now, if his taxes were as high as mine, he would have had to sell long ago. I don't want that. But high property taxes hurt young families especially, and they're killer when someone loses a job or income that they used to have.

I realize the advantage of property tax is that it is hard to dodge. But, it can also be hard to pay.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
you must have a lot of money and a survivalist compound (5.00 / 1)
to be so blithe about sending the state you live in into full melt-down mode out of pique over an admittedly stupid tax law.

[ Parent ]
Pique? (5.00 / 1)
Try paying 18% of your salary in state property taxes, and then come back and say it is 'pique'.

I am already paying the taxes for those Prop 13 slackers. People like me are those who bear the disproportionate burden of schools and city services NOW.

Pique? Indeed.


[ Parent ]
Income + prop taxes (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Sell your home (0.00 / 0)
Nobody is forcing you to pay those property taxes. And as far as I can tell, you are paying them without losing your home or starving.

To be clear, I agree with you that Prop 13 fucked up homeownership and penalizes new buyers. And I believe it should be changed. But I am not so insane as to believe that can be changed quickly, and I am not so cruel as to believe everyone else in California should suffer because of it.

You can check out any time you like but you can never leave


[ Parent ]
Easy to do (4.00 / 1)
Problem is, In My case I want to buy a house in Adelanto CA, But to do so on My limited income(Supplemental Security Income, I get $845 a month from SSI, $674 Federal and $171 from CA, If I had three times the Federal amount I wouldn't need the CA part, It's $2,022 according to the PC, I'd settle for $1,800 though), I could wind up homeless in 3 months(90 Days from Thursday 12-16-2010) If I fail to buy a house(too many investors and the house needs to be Turnkey and Vacant or no deal, I have the financing all lined up, Part of It comes from the San Bernardino County Homeowners Assistance Program(Provides help w/a down payment and pays closing costs) and a Mortgage company in Covina CA, Of course It  means I can't buy a house If It's beyond $62,000(Max, Payment of about $275 a month fixed for 30 years) as with the two together that's all I qualify for, As I have through no fault of My own, No credit History or Score, So I have Manually Underwritten Mortgage, So I have to sell My Mobile Home to the Park where I've lived since 2004 to raise the money for a 3% Down Payment/Good Faith Deposit(same thing in this case, Which is from $1650 to $2000), If I'm not successful in buying a house after 90 Days, My rent will go up to at least $450 to $475 or more per month, Or If they have a place in here that I can rent for about $50 they'll move Me there, If they have nothing I can afford only My Cat has a sure place to live(My living relatives have no room for Me, The Cat is house trained for litterboxes), Me I might end up homeless, I can't sell My car as It's worth only $1200 and I can't get around without It as I'm disabled(mentally & physically), I did find out about ESA(Emotional Support Animals) or the FHAA(Fair Housing Act Amendments), ESA would apply to My Cat who just needs a Note from My Doctor, But as to rents I'm still stopped by My lack of income and waiting lists at least 1 year in size and the fact that I'd be near the bottom of the lists. I did call Senator Boxers Office and Complain about this and the Presidents willingness to be Bipartisan when It was way past time(wasted opportunities anyone?), They said they'd pass this along to the Senator, I hope She gets It, I and others who get SSI If out income was tripled wouldn't need state help anymore to live, right now I feel like I'm excluded and exiled here. Yes I am very scared, As I'm now doing this all on My own, Literally. Safety Net? What's zat? I see cold hard reality as a possible future for Me and I need to get a cell phone charger for My car too, sigh...

[ Parent ]
yes, pique (5.00 / 1)
if you would vote to reject a tax hike necessary to keep the state govt from collapse because you feel like you pay too much in taxes already, knowing full well that the only two options by that juncture are a) higher taxes and sustained state govt, or b) a severely cut state govt, to the point of mass layoffs, curtailing or ending critical state services, etc., you must have a ton of money and a way to survive completely insulated from the effects of a collapsing society, with your income and personal safety unconnected to the economy as a whole.

it's a sign of either a significant level of privilege or else an utter ignorance of the degree to which one's standard of living is linked to one's community, that would lead someone to say or do such a thing. given that you came out at the beginning and said you paid the top income bracket, and that you own your house instead of rent, i'm guessing you're not actually getting taxed into penury at the moment (if you were, while still making that much money, you'd change the investment to another housing option that didn't; being able to choose is a mark of privilege, that many californians don't have BTW), and just feel like you shouldn't have to pay more than you already do, and are assuming that no matter how you vote, that nothing bad will really happen to you either way.

which is, of course, a total lie that you're telling yourself, up there with that old chestnut that "there's so much waste that they can cut that instead." if the state govt is forced to go to an all-cut budget, your fate is inextricably tied up in it, and a vote against raising taxes will be a net loss for anyone not a millionaire.

if you want to work together to make any proposed tax hike more equitable, and try to force the plutocrats to pay their fair share for a change, you'll find a lot of people here willing to work with you. but this "i don't feel like i should pay any more so i'm going to pick up my ball and go home" attitude will be treated as the howard jarvis-enabling talking point that it is. because as much as that vote will hurt your bottom line, it will be far crueler to millions of californians who can't afford to own houses and don't make near the income you do, but still have to try and make a living.  


[ Parent ]
Thanks for weighing in (0.00 / 0)
I mean that.  I tend to disagree with the choice you're making, but I appreciate someone coming in here pointing out something that, much as I think it shows some poor moral judgment, is probably a common judgment nonetheless.

Yes We Kang

[ Parent ]
Perfect Example (4.00 / 1)
Of what I said above -- the issue will be the "right" taxes.  And I fear it will fail for that very reason.

[ Parent ]
As someone who also has a high (0.00 / 0)
property tax bill, I am sympathetic. I pay a lot more in property taxes than I do in state income tax.

The inequality in tax frustrates me, but in my community it is not so awful. Most of the people in my area sitting on a low tax base are retirees, farmers, people who are contributing to the community and who are not rolling in cash. Indeed, were their property to be assessed at market value, the community would suffer; many of them would have to move. Their lower tax allows them to raise sheep instead of grapes (or pot), allows them to let the kids live in the guest house rent-free, etc.

I do not know your situation, but you may find that when you look at the tax you'd have to pay compared to the consequences, that paying a little more in tax isn't such a bad deal. The library saves me hundreds of dollars a year. Private school, or my time to home school, is many thousands a year. The fire department and sheriff lowers my insurance premiums (insurance companies take them into account). Mental health, shelters, and various other programs lower the panhandle factor. Friends of mine benefited from Medi-Cal after a huge and unexpected medical catastrophe. Speedy courts can substantially lower legal fees. Speedy DMV service is the difference between a half hour at lunch versus a half day off work. That is painful not only to one's personal time, but is lost wages that in turn lowers the tax base.

I'm sure you can make your own list.

I gave the example of 5 days of school lost costing many families $200 or more for care for those kids, not to mention the lost educational value which will compound as long as that person is a California resident. We have tradeoffs like that throughout the state government, where state services make a lot of things better or more affordable for us in ways we don't usually notice.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!


[ Parent ]
This is a golden framing opportunity for new progressivism (0.00 / 0)
No, not figuring out what frames to use (i.e. the 2005 question of "What do we stand for?"), but figuring out who the best stakeholder is to put on the hook for making sure good frames about government take root.

By putting the governor of California and the state's ginormous education establishment on the hook as stakeholders for a big proactive push to reframe the value of government, I think this could be a watershed moment.  Clearly still full of risk, tho.

Yes We Kang


getting clear on what we face (0.00 / 0)
Robert is right to say it's the fight of our lives.  Lots of uncertainties, including what goes on the ballot and what happens if we lose.  For what it's worth I think there's a good chance we do lose this summer (though even if we do lose I think we should come out of it with more muscle than when we go in).  So we need to plan seriously for a scenario that leaves CA bleeding on the floor until at least November 2012.

That said it would help me for one to get clear about the knowable unknowns that define what we face in the near future.  Clearly there's a lot of confusion out there about the rules.  My understanding has been that putting a measure on the ballot would require either 2/3 legislative approval or an initiative signed by 8% of the voters in the last election (let's just say a million signatures), after which we'd need 50%+1 voter approval.  Is this correct?  Also, is the initiative logistically possible?  If so it would produce the most powerful field operation ever, which is of course what we need.

It's been suggested here that the Dems could also do it with a 50%+1 legislative vote as an amendment to an existing statutory tax initiative.  Requiring no field operation.  Might this be the first step toward defeat?  (opening the campaign to the charge of "weaseling around the intent of the voters...", and setting us on track to do a campaign with far weaker legs on the ground than needed?)

-pablito


Fair share property taxes (5.00 / 3)
If the escalation clause for residential owners of prop 13 went from 2% to 3.5%, and the tax remains capped at 1% of market value, we would gradually solve the inequities created by prop 13 with the type of predictability that people can calculate.

And do a similar program with a higher rate (say 4.9%) for commercial properties.

Send all that revenue to local schools and local government with voter approval (after you first take it away with a realistic budget)

And redirect property tax from redevelopment agencies back to its original purposes.



OC Progressive is Gus Ayer, former Fountain Valley Council member.  


Great point (0.00 / 0)
Those redevelopment agencies are absurd in their current incarnation.

[ Parent ]
That would work (0.00 / 0)
We need to recognize that commercial properties can go a hundred years without being resold.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

[ Parent ]
I like It (0.00 / 0)
A lot, Count Me in.

[ Parent ]
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