These problems and more continue today. But so far, it's been political death for a politician to tamper with Proposition 13. Now, however, the push for tax reform in California is getting some traction. With both houses of the Legislature under new leadership, the discussion should take on serious proportions. A fair revision of Proposition 13 could continue to safeguard homeowners against confiscatory property tax but increase corporate property taxes and jettison the crippling need for a supermajority on taxation issues.
Proposition 13 is only one part of an overly complex tax system that is inefficient, inequitable and out of date. The system contributes to yo-yoing deficits and surpluses, and crises like the one we face now: billions in the hole, with deep cuts needed in essentials like education. But make no mistake, it is Proposition 13 -- because of its real impact on state coffers and its iconic role as a tax revolt symbol -- whose reform is the crucial first step in assuring California's future.