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How Prop. 13 Figures Into the Budget Crisis

May 14, 2003

Re "Short-Term Fixes Only Delay Fiscal Train Wreck," Commentary, May 9: No doubt the anti-tax people are scrambling over one another to rebut David Abel and Rick Cole's excellent column on the need to do something about Proposition 13. But the writers failed to present fully the 25 years of misery the measure has heaped on California. Every aspect of the state's infrastructure has suffered from the effects of Proposition 13: highways, schools, health care, sewers, parks; the list is endless. Add to that the aggressive need of local governments to invoke eminent domain to provide space for big-box businesses as sources of sales tax to make up for losses in property taxes.

The Yes on Proposition 13 campaign was based on fear and intimidation. It threatened homeowners on fixed incomes with immediate loss of their homes if the measure failed. Consisting of apartment house owners and other major property owners, the authors of Proposition 13 were only concerned with the bottom line of their annual balance sheet. And fearing another tax revolt, our spineless legislators have found every slapdash way to get around Proposition 13 while getting us deeper into fiscal black holes. We don't need another tax revolt; we need a voters' revolt.

David Carlberg

Huntington Beach

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I just finished reading Abel and Cole's commentary, and what they said could be summed up in one sentence: California has a fiscal problem. Now what are some solutions? Instead of recalling the glory days of blue-ribbon commissions, think tanks, civic experts and their dusty phantom reports, how about spending some ink on a practical way to fix this crisis?

We are not in this problem because of Proposition 13. We have a problem because Gov. Gray Davis and a liberal Legislature spent a $15-billion surplus into a $35-billion deficit. The pundits and "experts" need to stop whining about it and instead come up with smart fiscal solutions. Repealing Proposition 13 is not one of them.

Garrett Kelley

Thousand Oaks

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