This article was originally published in the May 1, 2017, online edition of The Recorder.
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Movie aficionados will recognize this classic line from the 1976 movie, “Network.” For many Californians, the line captures the feeling in the state just before Proposition 13 (Prop 13) was passed by about 65 percent of voters in 1978 to amend the state constitution. For a state that is used to sizable earthquakes, Prop 13 was a truly seismic event in California, restructuring the state property tax system. It was enacted in response to frustration over California’s decades-old method of paying for government, which allowed property taxes to increase dramatically year to year, often resulting in senior citizens on fixed incomes being unable to afford to stay in their homes. On top of cutting and restricting increases in property taxes, Prop 13 contained language requiring a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses for future increases of any state tax rates or amounts of revenue collected, including income tax rates and sales tax rates.