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Veterans: Yes on 93

Proposition 93 would write into the California Constitution a tax break for some owners of boats, airplanes and second homes--hardly an idea to galvanize public support when so many voters work so hard just to make ends meet.

But if voters don’t make the change on Nov. 8, it is only a matter of time until a judge does it for them, because state law on the point at issue is now unconstitutional. We suggest a Yes vote on 93.

The California Constitution now authorizes a $1,000 property-tax exemption for veterans who entered military service from California or who have lived in the state since Nov. 3, 1964. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1985 and again in 1986 ruled against limiting benefits on such grounds, and Proposition 93 would comply with the ruling by lifting the residency restrictions from the exemption.

What prevents the proposal from being a major issue and a thoroughly bad idea is that the exemption is strictly limited in practice. A veteran can apply either for a homeowner’s exemption or for a veteran’s exemption, but cannot use both on the same property. As a result, few veterans claim the exemption at all, and the loss of revenue throughout the state would be about $50,000 a year.

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