Monday, January 11, 2010

Prop 13

Joe Klein responds to George Will:

How on earth Will can write a column about the problems in California without even mentioning Proposition 13--the 1978 ballot measure that severely limited local property taxes--is beyond me. Prop 13 has distorted revenue gathering, severely limiting the amounts that localities can pay for schools and other public services, forcing the state to take on an increased burden.

Many things that a state would like to do for its citizens -- providing collective resources and services and the like -- require actual money. This requires some kind of taxes. But too often we neglect the power of targeting taxation in solving some of the problems that we would otherwise try to solve by funding government programs. Proposition 13 not only limited the state's revenue, but also guaranteed that the funds raised would be the problem-creating kind of taxation, not the problem-solving kind.

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