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Report · September 1998

Has Proposition 13 Delivered? The Changing Tax Burden in California

John Ellwood, Michael A. Shires, and Mary Sprague

In 1978, Californians passed Proposition 13, severely restricting the ability of  local governments to raise revenue through property taxes.  Since then, the voters and public officials have engaged in an almost continual tug-of-war over public finances, with state and local governments seeking creative ways to increase their revenues and taxpayers frequently using the initiative process to prevent new fees and taxes.  One of the questions that has arisen in the debate over public finances is whether Proposition 13 has succeeded in reducing the tax burden of Californians.  This report answers that question.