One of California’s foremost anti-tax advocates visited Fresno on Monday (Sept. 25) denouncing High-Speed Rail, but optimistic on the future of Proposition 13.

John Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, called the train project one of the worst ever.

Known for his advocacy on behalf of taxpayers, Coupal delivered his speech to the downtown Fresno Rotary Club.

“It is the most outrageous, ill-advised, boondoggle on the face of the planet,” Coupal said of High-Speed Rail.

Coupal compared the origins of the Prop. 13 to the Boston Tea Party. The landmark 1978 voter-approved measure limits the amount that property taxes can be raised annually to 2%.

He also took on the recently passed gas tax, saying it now made California the most expensive state in the nation. He also noted the exodus of wealthy individuals from California because of the state’s high income taxes.

After his speech, Coupal told GV Wire that some of the recently completed legislation that concerned him included the gas tax and SB 2, which could raise real estate transaction fees by $225.

“We are seeing more and more individuals move out of state because of California’s tax policy and regulations,” he said.

When it comes to the argument that Prop. 13 has hurt home building (cities would favor approving shopping centers that yield more tax dollars as the argument goes), Coupal doesn’t buy it: “We rank 17th of 50th in per-capita property tax collections. We are collecting tons of property tax revenues. The claim that Prop 13. has shorted local governments does not ring true.”

Looking at the 2018 race for governor, the most tax-friendly candidate (i.e. a Republican) may not be the one that wins, he says. Among the Democratic front-runners of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Coupal favors the latter.

“Villaraigosa has made some comments about protecting Prop 13. that may resonate well,” Coupal said.


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