On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa embraced the third rail issue of Proposition 13. Prop. 13 was introduced in 1978, with the original intention to serve as tax protection for homeowners. However, due to loopholes and exceptions, commercial property owners ended up benefitting most from the legislation. Villaraigosa said, “Prop. 13 was never intended to be a corporate tax give-away, but that is what it has become.” The Mayor states that increasing taxes on commercial properties could bring in up to $8 billion, and that such capital should be split evenly to fund public schools and decrease property taxes for homeowners. He also floated the ideas of decreasing or doing away with some business taxes to combat the anticipated backlash from anti-tax groups and business owners, as well as introducing a service tax to level the playing field for all businesses. But is this sound and fury signifying nothing? Is this simply a political stunt from an unpopular mayor? Will Governor Jerry Brown in Sacramento rally behind the issue, or hope it fades away?
Lenny Goldberg, Executive Director, California Tax Reform Association
Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
Kirk Stark, Professor of Law at UCLA; expert on tax policy and public finance who has written extensively on Proposition 13