Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, May. 27, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

One of Proposition 13’s unintended consequences was to intertwine state finances with those of cities, counties and school districts.

The syndrome is very evident in schools because the state took on the lion’s share of their financing after Proposition 13, which reduced local property taxes, passed in 1978. The system was later enshrined in the state constitution.

The interconnection of the state budget and those of more than 400 cities is less apparent, because cities get almost no direct state aid. But when the state has experienced budget problems, it has reached into city coffers.

An obvious example, two years ago, was elimination of city redevelopment agencies and seizure of their reserves on the grounds that they had been skimming property taxes from schools, thereby forcing the state to spend an extra $2 billion a year on schools.

The state’s 58 counties have always occupied an odd place in the hierarchy of government. They are local governments providing local services such as sheriff’s patrols and fire protection, as well as agents of the state in running health and welfare services for the poor and infirm.

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