Print this page

Know the Opposition

Opposition to Proposition 13 and to taxpayers’ interests in general comes primarily from three sources.

Politicians whose political power is based on providing transfer payments (transferring money from taxpayers to tax receivers) to their constituents.
Government-employee unions who see additional revenue as an opportunity to press for enhanced wages and benefits.
Wealthy and superwealthy political dilettantes who see new taxes as a way to compel others to fund programs that are a part of their vision for society.


At the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association we are often asked for a list of those politicians who oppose Proposition 13. Politicians are usually too wily to come right out and say they oppose Proposition 13. They can read polls and they know that the tax-limiting measure is still overwhelmingly popular with average Californians.

Often a politician will phrase their opposition to Proposition 13 indirectly. For example, they will say they support it, but that the two-thirds vote for tax increases — one of its most important protections — should be changed in the name of democratic fairness. Others may say they back Proposition 13 but it’s not fair that some owners of similar homes pay different amounts. On questioning, taxpayers usually find that these politicians’ idea of fairness is to raise everyone’s taxes to the same higher level. Usually office holders will describe their proposed changes to Proposition 13 as mere “tweaking” when, in fact, their actual goal is to gut it. These are the same folks who can be heard to say, “I hate to raise taxes, but…”

Taxpayers find the best way to gauge a lawmaker’s levels of commitment to Proposition 13 and the well-being of taxpayers is to ignore what they say and look at their voting record.

Annually, HJTA evaluates legislators’ voting records and publishes the Legislative Report Card. The latest Report Card is available by clicking here. Those lawmakers not receiving at least a “B” rating are unworthy of the taxpayers’ confidence. Those receiving a “B,” but not an “A,” are on the edge and should be carefully watched and encouraged to take more taxpayer-friendly positions on the issues.

An additional tool for evaluating lawmakers is to see who is introducing anti-taxpayer legislation. For a look at the most dangerous bills currently in the Legislature click here.


While most government workers may be dedicated, the unions that represent them are interested in only one thing: More money for their members.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California has the highest paid public employees in the nation. Still, it is never enough as far as the union leaders are concerned. For this reason, taxpayers find that these public-employee unions are usually in the forefront in promoting new taxes and damaging modifications to Proposition 13.

In 2004 it was these government unions that put Proposition 56 on the ballot. Proposition 56 would have reduced Proposition 13’s requirement that new state taxes receive a two-thirds vote of the Legislature for approval.

Fortunately for taxpayers and the economy of California, in a hard-fought campaign taxpayers defeated Proposition 56 at the polls.

One of the standout unions in the effort to undermine taxpayer protections has been the California Teachers Association (CTA). Twice in a recent two-year period the union collected signatures in an effort to qualify ballot measures to increase property taxes, although each time, for various reasons, they failed to submit the signatures they gathered.

Then CTA president, Barbara Kerr, was quoted as calling taxpayers who oppose new levies, “cheap.” To government-employee union leaders, taxpayers are a limitless source of money.

Union efforts are now under way to make higher sales tax rates permanent and to do away with Proposition 13’s requirement of a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve new or higher state taxes.


Wealthy and superwealthy political dilettantes have become a real menace to taxpayers in recent years. These public policy “dabblers,” whose only expertise is their checkbook, use the initiative process to try to force others to pay for implementing their expensive vision for society.