By John Fensterwald
A newly elected assemblymember has introduced a bill that could make parcel taxes more attractive to school districts by allowing them to impose different tax rates on residential and commercial properties.
The bill, AB 59, by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would nullify a state Appeals Court ruling in December overturning an Alameda Unified School District parcel tax that levied one rate for residential and small commercial properties, and another for larger commercial properties. Bonta also represents Alameda.
via Bill would allow charging commercial properties a bigger parcel tax – by John Fensterwald.
Former Catholic seminarian Jerry Brown is prone to including obscure theological references in his political pronouncements, often embellishing them with Latin phrases.
So last week, when presenting a new state budget proposal, he used the word “subsidiarity” to describe his intention to continue shifting responsibilities for policymaking from Sacramento to locally elected officials.
via Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s new big word — subsidiarity.
The Legislature’s Democratic leaders want to use their newly minted supermajorities to do things that they could not do before, but are leery of doing things that might alienate voters and jeopardize those supermajorities.
They prefer, therefore, an incremental approach to using their two-thirds legislative votes, thus slowly warming voters to the exercise of their new power, rather than shocking them.
via Dan Walters: Parcel tax changes could be big battle in California Legislature.
Democrats in the Legislature are poised to help make it easier for school districts to pass parcel taxes, but a court ruling this month – if it withstands an appeal – will narrow the scope of what parcel taxes can tax.
The First District Court of Appeals overturned Alameda Unified’s parcel tax, passed in 2008 and lasting three years, that set different tax rates for owners of residential and commercial property. In Borikas vs Alameda Unified, the court said that it violated a state law that requires parcel taxes be uniform. The potential ramifications of the decision are significant as districts look to local property owners for one of the few sources of money outside of state revenue.
via Appeals court imposes restrictions on parcel taxes – by John Fensterwald.
What most historians regard as the golden era of the California Legislature ended with a bang three-plus decades ago when ideological and partisan polarization gripped the Capitol.
The passage of Proposition 13 – California’s landmark tax limit – in 1978 was accompanied by election of Republican “Proposition 13 babies” to the Legislature, whom Democrats quickly dubbed “the cavemen.”
In reaction, Democratic lawmakers soon tossed out their policy-minded leaders and elevated political warriors who promised – and delivered – partisan gerrymanders of legislative districts to lock in their control of the Capitol.
via Dan Walters: What will CA Democrats dio with all of their new power?.
Voter approval of sales and income taxes and the advent of Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature have generated new hope among liberals that Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax limit they consider their bête noire, might be changed.
Not surprisingly, hope on the political left means fear on the right, which considers Proposition 13 to be its ideological touchstone.
Two events last week signal that property taxes are back on the political agenda.
via Dan Walters: Should property taxes be raised?.
Assembly Bill 18 was one of the casualties as Gov. Jerry Brown waded through hundreds of bills from the hectic, final hours of the 2012 legislative session.
And therein lies a tale.
Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, carried the bill, a watered-down version of her proposal to overhaul how the $60-plus billion in state, local and federal funds are allocated to California’s K-12 school districts each year.
Brownley wanted to streamline state aid and shift more money to low-performing schools with large numbers of students who are poor or “English learners,” responding to criticism that the state was not focusing money on its most urgent needs.
via Dan Walters: California school funding formula not easy to change.
By Peter Schrag
The estimable Joel Fox, former head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and now president of the anti-tax Small Business Action Committee, used to complain vehemently about the tendency of some on the left to blame all of California’s ills on Proposition 13.
Fox, who’s as thoughtful as he is conservative, was – is – partly right. California had plenty of problems even before June 6, 1978. It’s had lots since that didn’t have the remotest connection with Howard Jarvis’ famous stink bomb.
But last week’s budget wrestle in Sacramento was another reminder of how much of our mess was set off by the initiative and the orgy of other ballot measures and related legislative fixes that came in its wake.
The biggest example, bigger even than the Proposition 13 property tax cap, is the requirement that the legislature cannot pass any tax increase without a two-thirds vote – effectively a grant of veto power to any minority party or group, now almost always Republicans, that can muster one third of the votes, plus one, in either house.
via Haunted By The Spirit of ’13.
Voters remain up in the air about passing a statewide tax to help schools, according to recent polls. But given a chance to support local schools exclusively, more than two-thirds of voters in nine school districts said yes – a wide enough margin to pass a parcel tax. Even the four parcel taxes that lost got over 60 percent support and would have passed had the threshold for passage been 55 percent – an idea that’s been kicking around for years but can’t get out of the Legislature for lack of Republican votes. *
Also in Tuesday’s primary, voters in 23 K-12 districts passed nearly $2 billion worth of school construction bonds, a strong commitment in uncertain times. A piece of that money in some districts will go toward upgrading technology, critical as districts move toward implementing Common Core standards with digital textbooks and computer-administered assessments. Bond measures in an additional 11 districts were rejected, although a few came tantalizingly close to the 55 percent needed for approving school bonds.
via Parcel taxes beat the odds – by John Fensterwald – Educated Guess.
When Gov. Jerry Brown called the state budget “a pretzel palace of incredible complexity” last week, he was stating, in his inimitable way, the obvious.
During Brown’s governorship three decades ago, the budget was a relatively simple and understandable document. Revenue was relatively easy to calculate and spending obligations were clearly delineated. But today’s budget is complex almost beyond comprehension, and Brown wants to make it more so.
via Dan Walters: Incredible complexity of school finance hits home.
To mitigate the impact of substantially cutting spending for K-12 schools, the Legislature agreed to temporarily let school districts decide how to spend money that had been earmarked for dozens of special programs, from adult education to teacher training. Now, as part of his plan to reform how education is funded, Gov. Brown is proposing to go a big step further and give local districts total and permanent flexibility over nearly all of the remaining categorical programs. He also wants to drop two dozen mandated programs, leaving districts the option of continuing to fund them without state reimbursement. Is spending flexibility over billions of dollars, ending state control over what the Legislature deemed important priorities, wise policy? Can districts be trusted to do right by children? And suppose they don’t – what then?
To explore this issue, we asked four leaders with different perspectives: Jill Wynns, president of the California School Boards Association; John Affeldt, managing partner of the nonprofit law firm Public Advocates; Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators; and Erin Gabel, Director of Government Affairs for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. What do you think? Please share your views.
via Should districts be handed full control over spending? – by forum.
Two years ago, when Jerry Brown was trying to reclaim the governorship he had left 28 years earlier, he often said that his age, maturity and lack of political ambition would allow him to succeed where others had failed.
via Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s up to his old say-anything tricks.
By Peter Schrag
The convoluted jockeying among the proponents of California’s various ballot-box tax measures and the incessant lip flapping about which has the best chance with voters must make citizens of any normal democracy think we’re nuts. Which has the best shot? The Jerry Brown version (of a four-year increase in sales tax rates and five years in upper-bracket marginal income tax rates) vs. the millionaires’ tax increase proposed by the California Federation of Teachers (for schools) vs. millionaire lawyer Molly Munger’s progressively-scaled 12-year across-the-board income tax increase? What screwy system brought us to this?
via That Tax Plan: Can’t We Do Better Than The Status Quo?.
Proposition 13, the landmark property tax limit voters enacted 34 years ago, has been termed the “third rail” of California politics – to touch it is to commit political suicide.
via Dan Walters: Proposition 13’s ‘third rail of politics’ touched in Capitol.