May 2023 Newsletter Articles
How to Make Republicans Competitive in San Francisco
By Jay Donde, San Francisco Briones Society
San Francisco is not well. Sixty-five thousand people left the city over the last three years, and 25 percent of those considering leaving cited crime as their primary reason. Our public schools spend thousands more per student than the state average, yet have the worst racial achievement gap in California. And though our municipal budget is many times larger than those of comparably sized cities, we’re staring down a half-billion dollar fiscal hole developing over the next two years.
In 2021, Bill Jackson and I co-founded the Briones Society with other like-minded members of the SFGOP Central Committee because we felt that, in order to change San Francisco’s trajectory, we needed to re-introduce competition into city politics. No Republican has been elected to office here in almost 13 years; the last Republican mayor was elected in 1960. Today, a mere seven percent of registered voters in San Francisco are Republicans.
As recently as 2004, though, our share was almost double that. Where did all those voters go? The Briones Society believes that there is a large, unheard, and underserved constituency in San Francisco that is tired of conspiracy theories from the right and virtue signaling from the left, and is hungry for real solutions to challenges like crime, homelessness, and failing schools. Some of these folks have stayed in the Republican Party, but many of them joined the over 130,000 city voters registered as “no party preference.” Indeed, last year, nearly twice as many San Franciscans voted for candidates like Lanhee Chen, Nathan Hochman, and Mark Meuser as were registered Republican.
It’s clear that tens of thousands of voters are looking for a credible, competitive alternative to a Democratic Party that thinks their teenagers shouldn’t learn algebra, but their toddlers should be taught that they’re racist, or that tells them they’re cruel for not wanting to let drug addicts smoke, snort, and inject themselves to death in front of their homes and with their tax dollars. These voters are looking for leaders who believe that government should be about compromise and respect; it should not be a vehicle for cramming down fringe ideologies, whether right or left, supported by ephemeral majorities. They believe that Ronald Reagan was right when he said, “I’d rather get 80 percent of what I want than go over a cliff with my flags flying”; that there’s value in an approach to politics that unites Americans as they were almost four decades ago, when President Reagan won 49 states in his bid for reelection.
To get back to that place of unity, we have to go out and get to know voters, understand their priorities, and meet them where they are. If folks agree with 80 percent of the Republican platform, let’s talk about that 80 percent! That doesn’t mean abandoning the other 20 percent. To the contrary, it means maximizing our chances of getting someone elected who can actually do something about it.
The Briones Society is dedicated to exactly that – getting Republicans elected – and to the commonsense proposition that, as Governor Ron DeSantis recently put it, “Politics is not entertainment. It’s not about building a brand on social media … [Only] winners get to make policy.” We chose our name to honor Juana Briones, the “founding mother of San Francisco” whose life story is a remarkable journey of compassion, resilience, and spirit. If you find our message appealing, we encourage you to visit our website at www.brionessociety.org to sign up for our mailing list, make a contribution, and reach out to us to learn more. You might find that you’re a Briones Republican, also.
The Real Reason Government Wants Tax Hikes
By Jon Coupal, President Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
Two-thirds of California voters consistently tell pollsters that they think Proposition 13 is a good thing, but even with more than 40 years of constant support, Proposition 13 is still attacked by people who are mad that it’s so effective at protecting taxpayers.
Every argument against Proposition 13 boils down to one thing: Control. They may mask it in buzzwords like “economic dynamism” and “equity,” but the reality is that they think they know how to spend your money and use your land better than you do.
California has the highest or near- highest tax rate in every category except property taxes, and even then the state is 14th in property tax collections per capita, according to the latest data from the Tax Foundation.
In fact, county assessors are reporting sizeable growth in the value of taxable property over the past year. In the greater San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas Contra Costa County reported growth of 7.79%; San Mateo County, 8.34%; Santa Clara County, 7.46%; Marin County, 6.55%; Napa County, 7.12%; and Santa Cruz County, 6.33%.
While this is likely welcomed news in the county halls of administration, before Prop. 13 it would have been met with great anxiety among homeowners. That’s because before Prop. 13, property tax assessments were based on current market value, and property was regularly reassessed. Some property owners saw their assessments jump 50 to 100% in just one year and their tax bills jump correspondingly — even if the gains in value were only on paper. People were losing their homes to higher taxes.
In 1978, voters overwhelmingly approved Prop. 13 and limited increases in taxable value to no more than two points a year, cutting the property tax rate to 1% from a statewide average of 2.67%. Prop. 13 has been successful in its primary mission of limiting tax increases, but, for better or worse, it has hardly “starved the beast.” It raises plenty of money for bigger government.
All this compels a simple question: With California property tax revenue seeing consistent year-over-year growth, why would we even consider tax hikes? Well, there are the fake reasons and the real reason, and none of them are good reasons.
One fake reason is that the government “needs” the additional funds for critical programs. Given the inordinate amount of existing revenue coupled with waste in government, taxpayers would rather see elected officials prioritize the revenue we already give them.
Another fake reason is that housing isn’t turning over at a fast enough rate, and this exacerbates the housing crisis. That’s a nice way of saying the tax code isn’t sufficiently running you out of your home. But Prop. 13 isn’t the reason why California added 3.2 times more people than housing units over the last 10 years and averaged just over 108,000 new homes over the past five years. That’s a result of the state’s onerous regulatory regime that slows development to a crawl and dramatically drives up the cost of construction.
The real reason, as I stated earlier, is control. Government and its boosters think they can better use your money, and that the land your home rests on is being “underutilized,” so you must be taxed out of it and the property sold to someone who can build something these other people prefer.
Thanks, but no thanks.
The tax code should not be weaponized to run you out of your home. That was true when Californians struggled to hang on to their homes in 1978 when Prop. 13 passed, and it’s true for Californians buying homes today (who would be paying more than double today’s property taxes if Prop. 13 had never passed).
So, if someone calls or knocks on your door and asks if you would be willing to support “reforming” Prop. 13, remember what they are really asking: How much do you have, and how fast can we have it?
This article was originally published by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA). Copyright © 2022-2023 by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. All rights reserved.