Fiscal Constraints and the Loss of Home Rule: The Long-Term Impacts of California's Post-Proposition 13 Fiscal Regime
American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 423-454, 2002
58 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2011
Date Written: January 24, 2002
The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 was a watershed event that ushered in both a new era and a new fiscal regime for California’s local governments. We argue that, in the wake of follow-on initiatives, a protracted recessionary period, and the state’s use of newly authorized revenue-transfer powers, this still-evolving regime entered a new phase in the 1990s. This article analyzes the primary impacts of and responses to the changes in California’s post-Proposition 13 fiscal regime in the 1990s in five local jurisdictions. The results reveal that the most significant long-term impacts of this regime have been an altered fiscal structure and an unintended decrease in local home rule. These impacts, in turn, have led to cuts in non-essential services, the expansion of sales tax-generating redevelopment efforts, implementation of new taxes and user service fees, and increased reliance on one-time fiscal measures.
Keywords: Proposition 13, public administration, local governments, fiscal constraints, home rule
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