Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Voter approval of sales and income taxes and the advent of Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature have generated new hope among liberals that Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax limit they consider their bête noire, might be changed.

Not surprisingly, hope on the political left means fear on the right, which considers Proposition 13 to be its ideological touchstone.

Two events last week signal that property taxes are back on the political agenda.

First, Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, announced a constitutional amendment to lower voter approval on school district parcel taxes – a specialized form of property tax – from two-thirds to 55 percent.

Other legislative leaders, such as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, have already endorsed such a change.

It would be a modest change in one rarely used form of property tax, but its fate would signal whether enough Democratic legislators are willing to breach the property tax firewall, and if they are, whether voters would agree.

A change for school taxes would have the best chance of success, since education is the most popular government activity – which is why Brown & Co. used it in the campaign for higher income and sales taxes.

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