Jerry Brown Blames California’s Coming Insolvency on Prop 13

Jerry Brown 1974 (Jeff Robbins / Associated Press)
Jeff Robbins / Associated Press
Newport Beach, CA

Gov. Jerry Brown is blaming California’s coming insolvency on Proposition 13, which was passed in response to his first term policies in the late 1970s.

Gov. Brown has been warning Californians since May that the state’s eight-year economic expansion will not last forever, and the next “moderate recession” could cause state revenues to fall by $55 billion over the following three years.

To put the size of such a challenge in perspective, California’s annual spending budget for general government payroll and benefits is only $10 billion.

At the Jan. 10 press conference following release of his last proposed 2018-19 state budget, Brown blamed Proposition 13 three times for the precarious financial condition he has had to wrestle with in his four terms as governor of the Golden State.

Jerry Brown was 36 when he was first elected governor in 1974. He ran in his first election campaign in 1974 on a promise to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to fight Gov. Ronald Reagan’s deficit spending. But once in office, Brown fought oil company drilling and arrogantly pushed for new spending on expensive environmental mandates.

With inflation rampant and senior citizens scared that unlimited increases in property tax would take their homes, Howard Jarvis rallied voters to gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to put Proposition 13 on the ballot in 1978. Despite opposition from Brown and every Democrat politician in Sacramento, the initiative passed with a 62.6 percent majority. Brown was forced to slash spending by $5 billion, or 20 percent.

Gov. Brown told reporters 40 year later, “The passage of Proposition 13, and the insertion of the state government into local funding and local decision-making, has radically changed the nature of California government.”

Brown remained quiet in June 2015 when the Democrat super-majority in the California Legislature wanted to put an amendment on the state ballot to eliminate Prop 13 restrictions on taxing commercial and industrial property.

But with polling for split-roll never receiving over 50 percent support, Gov. Brown ended the tax increase push in October when he told real estate interests that Prop 13 was California’s “political third rail” and that he would not support any vote to change the law.

Gov. Brown has proposed a $190.3 billion balanced budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year beginning July 1. It is the sixteenth and last budget in his four terms as governor. Brown’s budget proposal includes a $5 billion allocation to his voter-approved Proposition 2 “rainy day” fund, bringing the total reserve fund to $13.5 billion.

Breitbart News reported that Brown’s conservative budget proposal is a direct challenge to his own party. His former Democrat allies in the California legislature announced a budget plan in December that includes spending $4.3 billion more than on social justice issues — including providing illegal aliens with eligibility for California’s Medicaid program; expanding a tax credit for the working poor; boosting preschool and child care; and increasing college scholarships to reduce reliance on student loans.

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