Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Ravenwoode: Proposition 13, the financial impact of how much money you spent (or saved)

As of this date, the passage of Proposition 13 (decided by California voters on the March 3, 2020, primary election) appears tenuous. With a remaining five million votes to count, the breakdown is 45 percent in favor and 55 percent opposed.

So what is Proposition 13?

This was a state construction bond for $15 billion to repair public school health and safety hazards, specifically testing for lead in drinking water, and its remediation.

Other projects included renovations of school heating and cooling systems, building upgrades and renovations and new classroom construction for grades K-12.

Nine of this $15 billion bond would be awarded to K-12 schools. Priority would be given to rural school districts, with English language learners and foster youth.

The remaining $6 billion would be awarded to California State University and University of California educational systems.

The expressly stated top two spending priorities of Proposition 13:

1. Testing and remediation of K-12 health and safety hazards; and
2. Small or rural school district financial assistance, specifically slated for counties without the economic development capacity to fund their own school projects.

In short, this bond measure was tailor-made for the rural school districts within Lake County.

We all know that money is constantly circulating throughout our state and national economy. If this proposition passes, the bond money would come from the state to individual school districts.

It would then be used to hire and pay: local engineers, building contractors, and subcontractors: electrical, heating and cooling, carpentry, roofing, etc. to repair existing school buildings or construct new ones. The only requirement in the bond language was that any contractors be “state-licensed.”

So if Prop 13 passes, how much tax money will each person in California owe to pay off the bond debt?

The bond required a payback of $750 million a year for the next 35 years. If you take the 40 million population of California and divide it into the $750 million annual payback requirement, you get $18.75/year, per person; or $1.56/ person per month. (For a family of four that would be $6.24 per month to help upgrade our public schools.)

If Proposition 13 does not pass, it appears the majority of California taxpayers (approximately 55%) have voted their priorities. That $1.56 you saved, per person (instead of helping our children go to school in safe buildings and drink lead-free water) must be a relief.

Just before the election, I received my packet in the mail from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The packet letter began with the statement: “Politicians literally taxing retirees out of their homes.” The remainder of the information provided was also false.

Proposition 13 is not a parcel tax on your home or commercial business, nor is it an assault on the original Prop 13 which lowered local property taxes. These false statements were mailed to California voters and presented as “true.”

The truth is: The Proposition 13 on the March 3 ballot is a construction bond which would be paid back from the state general fund. The general fund is financed by state personal income taxes, sales and use taxes and corporate taxes. It is not funded by local property taxes, nor would it create an added parcel tax to your home or business.

Proposition 13 was supported by the California Chamber of Commerce.

So hold onto the $1.56/monthly savings if Proposition 13 does not pass. With that money you can buy one cigarette, a candy bar or almost one half gallon of gas. And explain to your children or grandchildren why you could not afford to put them in a safe public school.

Anna Rose Ravenwoode is a life-long educator. She lives in Kelseyville, California.


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