Critical Section

Arnold and Proposition 13

Saturday,  08/16/03  11:30 PM

Earlier I reported that columnist Dan Gillmor wrote  Why I Might Vote for Schwarzenegger.  Apparently Warren Buffet, an advisor to Arnold in his gubernatorial campaign, mentioned that if elected Arnold might consider overturning Proposition 13.  This has caused a stir, with many people feeling it would be political suicide to mention during the campaign.  And maybe it is...  but, Proposition 13 has been a horrible thing for the state of California, and overturning it would be a great good thing.

It is interesting that Arnold would even consider this move, since Prop 13 is generally regarded as a Republican initiative.  Lower taxes and all that.  It just shows that although he is a Republican, you can't really peg him that way.  He is also pro-choice and pro-gay rights.

[ Later: Here's an article about Warren Buffet's comments.  Reading the comparison of his house in Omaha to his house in Laguna Beach, how could Prop 13 not be wrong?  And not coincidentally the schools in Omaha are much better than the schools in Laguna Beach... ]

As a concerned parent who has participated as a board member in several community fund raising organizations, I can tell you Prop 13 is a disaster.  Many of my fellow parents are people who live in expensive properties, who would be most affected by a property tax increase, and we would all gladly pay more property tax so we could have better schools.

The tragedy of Prop 13 is that in affluent neighborhoods there are parents like me who are willing and able to raise additional funds to support local schools, and in consequence our kids get things like music teachers and librarians.  Meanwhile in poor areas where people don't pay much property tax anyway, the schools have no money, the kids don't participate as much, and bad things happen.  California has some of the worst schools in the nation.

California also has one of the largest prison populations anywhere.  Keeping prisoners is an expensive business.  It would be far more efficient to invest in better schools, perhaps improving the prospects of our children and redirecting them away from crime, and reducing the prison population.  Pay now or pay later.  Don't think for a moment there isn't a tangible cost to the property tax reductions mandated by Proposition 13.

So - I don't know about voting for Arnold; I need to learn more about where he stands, but I strongly feel almost anyone could do better than Gray Davis - but I think repealing Prop 13 and gradually raising property taxes is right on.

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