Indeed, its financial misery, which is wiping out great chunks of the educational system as well as other tax- supported state services, has reached beyond a crises. Carly Fiorina (nee Cara Carlton Sneed), a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, has now gone so far as to conclude that the state should declare bankruptcy. Her understanding of the law reveals still one more flaw in her judgment, an ailment that got her booted out as Hewlett-Packard's top executive in 2005. Lest we forget: she was an economic advisor to John McCain in the last campaign.
The reality is that California is prohibited by federal law from declaring bankruptcy, which Fiorina describes as a mere technicality. At the same time, the state would find it quite difficult to change the picture. It would take a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature. A family source in California told me yesterday that, even the mere whisper that the system ought to change would mean sudden death - with no overtime - to the heretical politician.
Time magazine once observed that Prop 13 was so beloved that it "ignited the Reagan Revolution and the conservative era" - an unconditional stranglehold that is a fixture in the Republican delegation on Capitol Hill as well as with their ideological brethren in legislatures across the country. (In this context, Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich's pledge to eliminate the state income tax is, to put it kindly, reckless political rhetoric.)
No matter that Jarvis' ill-conceived anti-tax curse on California has managed to haunt the state for 32 years, draining billions upon billions from that state's needs to serve its citizens. Even local governments were denied an opportunity to make up their losses, if possible. Want to know how inequitably drastic the effect? People who owned a home before Prop 13 were guaranteed a tax freeze forever. Pre-Prop tax on a ($700,000) home might be $600. A Post-Prop tax on a similar home next door that was purchased later without the amendment's protection: $10,000.
Fiorina: Meet Jarvis. Anybody else might want to take off for Hilton's Shangri-La . They say it's a peaceful paradise.