Reject Proposition 19, a cynical special interest money grab

California counties should implement the good part of Proposition 19; the voters should handle the bad part by turning down the ballot measure this November.

Portability — taking your property tax bill with you when you move from one California county to another — rightly protects people from enormous spikes in taxes. Property owners are protected from dramatic tax increases by Proposition 13, passed in 1978, limiting increases to 2 percent a year. Portability would apply that limit even for most intercounty moves.

Right now a few California counties allow residents to bring along the property tax bill from their previous home, which is useful because taxing authorities all over the state are looking for every opportunity they can find to separate you from your money. Portability is one way to ensure a resident’s tax bill won’t get precipitously worse.

But a Prop. 19 provision would more than offset portability by reassessing a property passed from homeowners to their heirs as though it were an open-market sale, unless an heir actually occupied the inherited residence. Proposition 58, passed in 1986, prohibits this. Prop. 19 would soak at least hundreds of millions of dollars a year out of an already heavily-taxed populace and ruin for some heirs benefits their parents worked a lifetime to pass on to them.

Prop. 19’s proponents say heirs paying a lower tax unfairly takes money from all other Californians. But tax savings are not a pilfering; taking a larger share of tax savings is.

The fundamental problem is the reason why Prop. 19 seeks to raise revenues.

Prop. 19 is very similar to a 2018 ballot proposition requiring statewide portability. That measure, Proposition 5, lost by about a 3-to-2 margin.  Among the foes of Prop. 5: the firefighters unions, which essentially argued that portability, allowing people to keep more of their own money, was somehow an imposition on everybody else.

Real estate interests pushing Prop. 19 (thinking, evidently, it would spur sales) cleverly got around this by adding funding for firefighting to this redo of the 2018 effort.

Prop. 19 backers can recite for you numerous reasons why firefighters need more funding, some of which may even be true, but Prop. 19 is not the proper vehicle. And offering what’s essentially a bribe to gain union backing in exchange for raising taxes on regular citizens is cynical and unfair.

If firefighting funds are a high priority, the Legislature can address it by allocating the funds it believes are needed. Same for local governments and schools. Nothing is stopping Sacramento from appropriating more money to them. It’s a matter of setting priorities.

But Prop. 19 is best understood for what it is: an attempt by real estate interests to accomplish what they couldn’t accomplish two years ago by pandering to the state’s firefighters union. This is a special-interest measure that seeks to raise hundreds of millions of new tax revenues to appease yet another special interest.

Prop. 19 has one good feature — portability. Counties ought to enable it forthwith, as a few already have done. But Prop. 19 is a cash grab, not tax reform; it’s not fair to property heirs, and it buys off a union so it has a better chance of passing. Vote it down.

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Rep. Harley Rouda endorses Mike Bloomberg for president

Rep. Harley Rouda is endorsing billionaire Mike Bloomberg as Democratic candidate for president, citing the former New York City mayor’s business experience and track record fighting climate change.

“He has the ability to not only beat Donald Trump but, more importantly, to bring our country together, and restore America to its place as the leader of the free world,” Rouda said in a statement slated to go public Friday.

Bloomberg gave at least $4 million to support Rouda, D-Laguna Beach, in 2018 when he flipped Orange County’s coastal 48th District to blue for the first time.

Rouda told Politico that he liked what he heard Thursday when the billionaire businessman — who’s been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent in the past — sold himself as a centrist during closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill.

Republicans still have a 6.4 percentage point voter registration advantage in Rouda’s district. While the congressman has been vocal about climate change issues, and voted to impeach Trump, the former Republican also has spoken out against the Democratic party going too far to the left.

“Like myself, Mike Bloomberg believes in smart capitalism coupled with good government,” Rouda said.

“He’s a legendary businessman who also ran one of the nation’s largest and most complex cities, a city with a population larger than 39 states. He’s met payrolls, knows how to balance budgets, and understands the intricacies of our economy.”

Bloomberg entered the presidential race late, but has already poured more than $100 million into TV ads and adding hundreds of staffers across the county.

Bloomberg said he’s honored to have Rouda’s support, which comes less than two weeks after the media magnate opened his first California campaign office in Riverside. Rouda is the third Democratic House member to endorse Bloomberg this week, joining Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy and New York Rep. Max Rose.

When asked Jan. 7 who he was backing for president, Rouda would only say that he was supporting “whoever can beat President Trump.”

The next morning, news leaked that Rouda was billed with Rep. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, and others to co-host a private fundraiser in Irvine for former Vice President Joe Biden. Correa formally endorsed Biden in August and joined his campaign trail last week.

But neither Rouda nor Correa showed up to the Biden fundraiser in Shady Canyon on Jan. 9, since they were stuck voting in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, has been stumping for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren since she became a co-chair of the senator’s campaign in the fall.

The other four local House representatives haven’t endorsed anyone for president, with Reps. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, and Linda Sanchez, D-Whittier, saying they likely won’t back anyone before the March 3 primary.

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