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California Focus: We’ll find out if Prop. 13 is still a sacred cow

It’s been almost 41 years since Proposition 13 passed in 1978, lowering property taxes for every home, apartment building, commercial structure, farm and parking lot in California.

Through almost all that time, the initiative sponsored by longtime anti-tax gadflies Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann remained a sacred cow, a third rail that election officials and candidates of every stripe feared to touch for fear of political electrocution.

But now it’s suddenly open season on Prop. 13, often vilified these days for taking money from schools and other public services and for some of the obvious inequities it brought. Because Jarvis-Gann limits property taxes to 1 percent of the latest purchase price, plus a 2 percent annual increase, neighbors in identical-seeming homes can pay vastly different tax bills each year.

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