Marching on Sacramento

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Angry parents, hundreds of them, met in Marina Middle School to demand an end to cuts in education.

Angry Muni riders, hundreds of them, jammed City Hall to oppose Muni fare hikes and service cuts.

Angry students from the University of California -- thousands of them -- will hold a huge event March 4th to push for better education funding and lower fees.

There’s something going on here -- because in every case, grassroots activists in huge numbers (numbers that dwarf the so-called Tea Party events) want to force the state of California to change its budget priorities. And they are starting to talk seriously about taxes.

The Republicans are pretty intransigent up in Sacramento. But if these groups -- the public school parents, the UC students, the transit users and the wide range of other middle-class folks who are sick to death of California’s budget mess and how it’s screwing them -- could start working together, we could see a powerful coalition emerging.

And what that coalition needs to do, among other things, is push for Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s legislation to change Prop. 13 and Sen. Mark Leno’s efforts to allow a local vehicle license fee, and a Constitutional amendment to get rid of the two-thirds majority for budget approval and tax hikes.

The Republicans have all signed this no-new-taxes pledge and it’s going to be hard to move them. Any attempt to change Prop. 13 will be met with huge opposition from big business. I used to think that it was hopeless even to talk about that ... but maybe it’s not. Maybe if everyone who’s angry about government cuts understood that the only way to solve the problem in the end is to allow local government to raise money for the schools through property taxes, and allow state government to raise income taxes on the rich and impose taxes on big businesses, we’d be able to build a movement that could make some progress.

It’s worth thinking about.