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Stirrings of Revolt: Regressive Levies, the Pocketbook Squeeze, and the 1960s Roots of the 1970s Tax Revolt

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2020

JOSH MOUND*
Affiliation:
University of Virginia

Abstract:

In most accounts, the modern American “tax revolt” begins with Proposition 13, passed by California voters in June 1978. In this telling, the revolt represents an antigovernment, antiliberal shift among white homeowners instrumental in the “rise of the right” and the fall of the “New Deal order” that culminated in Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 and his subsequent tax cuts. This article challenges that account by demonstrating that the revolt began more than a decade before Prop 13 as approval rates for local levies and bonds reached all-time lows. This local revolt was not limited to whites, nor did it portend rising conservatism. Instead, it was rooted in lower- and middle-income Americans’ frustrations with steep rises in unfair, regressive taxes during the post–World War II decades. The Kennedy-Johnson “Growth Liberals,” who were busy cutting progressive federal taxes at the same time that regressive state and local taxes were soaring, missed this pocketbook squeeze, thereby setting the stage for later events like Prop 13.

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Article
Copyright
© Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2020

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References

1. Though too numerous to list here, nearly every account of post-1960s American history or modern economic politics treats Prop 13 as nearly synonymous with the tax revolt and places the ballot initiative at the center of the “rise of the right.” In both popular and scholarly memory, the tax revolt begins on the political right, in California, in the late 1970s. To cite several examples: Bloomberg News recently declared that Prop 13 “launched a national anti-tax revolt,” while a Mother Jones report argued, “The great American tax revolt got its start in June 1978, when California voters passed Proposition 13.” Dominic Sandbrook called Howard Jarvis, Prop 13’s sponsor, “The man responsible for the greatest tax revolt in modern history,” and declared that “Proposition 13 was a landmark in postwar history, for few issues did more to promote the conservative cause.” According to historian Peter Carroll, “The ratification of Proposition 13 seemed to herald a conservative backlash against liberal programs.” Likewise, sociologist Clarence Lo credited Prop 13 with “this newly created phenomenon, this tax revolt, [which] went on to reshape the political landscape of the United States” by “set[ting] into motion political forces that reduced federal taxes and limited the revenues in cities and states throughout America.” Economist Jeffrey Sachs has written, “The national tax revolt movement began most vividly in California’s referendum on Proposition 13 in 1978.” Historian Matthew Dallek credited Ronald Regan with “help[ing] spearhead the revolt against taxes in the late 1970s, which, appropriately, began with the passage of Proposition 13 in California in 1978 and found its way into national policy with the Reagan tax cut of 1982.” Jennifer Oldham and Michael B. Marois, “California Shows Voters Tiring of Proposition 13 Legacy,” Bloomberg News, 8 November 2012 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-08/californians-approve-brown-tax-plan-averting-school-cuts.html); Kevin Drum, “Californians Started the Tax Revolt 34 Years Ago. Will They End It Today?” Mother Jones, 6 November 2012 (http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/11/californians-started-tax-revolt-34-years-ago-will-they-end-it-today); Dominic Sandbrook, Mad As Hell: The Crisis of the 1970s and the Rise of the Populist Right (New York, 2011), 289–90; Peter N. Carroll, It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: The Tragedy and Promise of America in the 1970s (New York, 1982), 325; Clarence Y. H. Lo, Small Property Versus Big Government: Social Origins of the Property Tax Revolt (Los Angeles, 1990), xi, 1; Jeffrey D. Sachs, The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity (New York, 2011), 71–72; Matthew Dallek, The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics (New York, 2000), 242.

2. Borstelmann, Thomas, The 1970s: A New Global History from Civil Rights to Economic Inequality (Princeton, 2011), 155–57Google Scholar. Another clear expression of the argument that the public resented the public sector, especially public-sector unions, helped drive the tax revolt has been made by McCartin, Joseph, “Turnabout Years: Public Sector Unionism and the Fiscal Crisis,” in Schulman, Bruce and Zelizer, Julian E., eds., Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s (Cambridge, Mass., 2008), 223–24Google Scholar. A subset of this argument is the claim that Prop 13 resulted from Serrano decisions of the 1970s, which proponents of this theory argue eroded middle-class whites’ support for the local property tax by decoupling it from local schools. This argument has caused heated debate, with some studies finding that the Serrano decision caused Prop 13 and others arguing that it had little to do with Prop 13. This author tends to find the latter argument more persuasive, given that the early revolt recounted in this article took place prior to Serrano. William A. Fischel, “Did Serrano Cause Proposition 13?” National Tax Journal 42, no. 4 (December 1989); Kirk Stark and Jonathan Zasloff, “Did Serrano Really Cause Proposition 13?” UCLA Law Review 50 (February 2003); Isaac Martin, “Does School Finance Litigation Cause Taxpayer Revolt? Serrano and Proposition 13,” Law and Society Review 40, no. 3 (September 2006); William A. Fischel, “Serrano and Proposition 13: Comment on Isaac Martin,” unpublished paper (February 2009); William A. Fischel, “Serrano and Proposition 13: The Importance of Asking the Right Question,” Tax Analysts State Tax Notes (25 August 2008).

3. By moving “beyond programs taxing the few for the benefit of the many (the New Deal) to programs taxing the many on behalf of the few (the Great Society),” Phillips argued, Democrats were alienating white working- and middle-class voters and driving them into the arms of the Republic Party. Similarly, one early social scientific account of Prop 13 and the tax revolt argued that “large numbers of whites remain fundamentally opposed to special government aid to blacks, and that opposition was a central determinant of white support for the tax revolt.” Phillips, Kevin, The Emerging Republican Majority (New York, 1969), 37Google Scholar; Sears, David O. and Citrin, Jack, Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), 185Google Scholar.

4. Edsall, Thomas and Edsall, Mary, Chain Reaction: The Impact of Race, Rights, and Taxes on American Politics (New York, 1992)Google Scholar.

5. Martin, Isaac, The Permanent Tax Revolt: How the Property Tax Transformed American Politics (Stanford, 2008), 513Google Scholar.

6. Kuttner, Robert, Revolt of the Haves: Tax Rebellions and Hard Times (New York, 1980), 1823Google Scholar.

7. Self, Robert, “Prelude to the Tax Revolt: The Politics of the ‘Tax Dollar’ in Postwar California,” in Kruse, Kevin and Sugrue, Thomas, eds., The New Suburban History (Chicago, 2006)Google Scholar; Self, Robert, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Princeton, 2003)Google Scholar, 7, 10, 16, 103, 285–88, 317–19, 325–26.

8. While laws varied from state to state, in states such as Ohio bonds were generally reserved for one-time capital improvements, whereas levies were for ongoing expenses. Crucially, both levies and bonds resulted in tax increases, with approval rates for levies and bonds rising and falling together, as contemporary studies (and data cited later in this article) make clear. Moreover, policymakers, journalists, and academics grouped levies and bonds under the umbrella of local finance referenda in analyzing the nascent revolt. On the general differences between levies and bonds and the role of each in Ohio, see “Understanding School Finance,” Cincinnati Public Schools (https://www.cps-k12.org/files/pdfs/BondvsLevy.pdf); “Understanding School Levies,” Ohio School Boards Association (https://www.ohioschoolboards.org/sites/default/files/OSBAUnderstandingLeviesFactSheet.pdf); “Difference Between Bonds and Levies Explained,” Centralia Schools (https://www.centralia.k12.wa.us).

9. Author’s analysis of levy and bond data. California data from Meltsner, Arnold J., West, Gregory W., Kramer, John F., and Nakamura, Robert T., Political Feasibility of Reform in School Financing (New York, 1972Google Scholar). Ohio data compiled by author from various sources. See Richard E. Kelley, “The Diminishing Vote,” Ohio Schools (May 1963): 16–17; Marlowe, Byron H., “Voter Behavior in School Bond and Tax Elections in Ohio,” in A Time for Priorities: Financing the Schools for the 70s: Proceedings of the 13th National Conference on School Finance (National Education Association, 1970)Google Scholar, 158–67; “Levy Defeats: From Curiosity to Commonplace,” Ohio Schools 49, no. 1 (22 January 1971), 8–9. For a national overview of school-bond approval rates from 1963 through 1972, see Figure 3–1 in Hamilton, Howard Devon and Cohen, Sylvan H., Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974Google Scholar) and Table 1 in Barr, Richard and King, Irene, Bond Sales for Public School Purposes, 1969–1970 (National Center for Education Statistics, 1971)Google Scholar. See also various state tables and graphs in Voter Behavior and Campaign Strategies in School Finance Elections (Educational Research Service, 1977).

10. Studies of local school finance referenda failures, often funded by local governments or business groups, like the Youngstown study cited above, became common during the levy defeat epidemic of the mid- to late 1960s and early 1970s. Defeats also became a common topic for theses and dissertations. Due to the rising tide of levy and bond defeats, elaborate pro-levy campaigns became commonplace, too. Hamilton, Howard Devon and Cohen, Sylvan H., Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974)Google Scholar, 106–11.

11. In some cities, like Pasadena, anti-integration racism was, indeed, implicated in the defeat of school finance initiatives. However, cases with clear racial divisions in the support for a school levy or bond were rare. Yet, based on faulty assumptions or limited data, many local officials and observers believed that the link was almost universal. For example, the superintendent of schools in Youngstown, Ohio, blamed his city’s national publicized string of levy defeats on the racial views of blue-collar whites in his city, even though later surveys would prove his assumptions incorrect. Roy Reed, “Schools in Pasadena Confronted by Classic Segregation Crisis,” New York Times, 7 April 1969; Alvin Rosensweet, “Just Out of Money—Youngstown Ready to Close Schools,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 November 1968; “School Funds / Ohio,” NBC Evening News, 25 November 1968; Alvin Rosensweet, “Crisis in Youngstown—Vote Against the School Levy,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 19 November 1968.

12. Elam, Stanley M., ed., A Decade of Gallup Polls of Attitudes Towards Education, 1969–1978 (Phi Delta Kappa, 1978Google Scholar). Moreover, in 1974, 53 percent of blacks and 47 percent of whites said they would “sympathize with a taxpayers’ revolt.” Author’s analysis of Harris Poll, May 1974, Odum Institute [#7485].

13. Steven J. Weiss and Robert W. Eisenmenger, “The Problem of Redistribution of Federal and State Funds,” paper presented at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston conference, “Financing State and Local Governments,” June 1970; “Tax Reform/Ohio/New York/Michigan,” NBC Evening News, 28 March 1969; William K. Stevens, “Tax Revolt: 46,00 Shut Out of School,” New York Times, 14 September 1970.

14. The depiction of antilevy and antibond voters hewed closely to the depiction of Wallace voters. Wayne E. Thompson and John E. Horton, “Political Alienation as a Force in Political Action,” Social Forces 38, no. 3 (1 March 1960); John E. Horton and Wayne E. Thompson, “Powerlessness and Political Negativism: A Study of Defeated Local Referendums,” American Journal of Sociology 67, no. 5 (1 March 1962; Sylvan Cohen, “Voting Behavior in School Referenda: An Investigation of Attitudes and Other Determinants by Q Technique and Survey Research” (PhD diss., Kent State University, 1971); Philip Piele and John Hall, “Voting in School Financial Elections: Some Partial Theories” (ERIC Clearinghouse, September 1973).

15. See, for example, J. Kiriazis and S. Hotchkiss, “Community Attitudinal Survey of Youngstown Voters on the School Tax Levies,” Youngstown State University Archives and Special Collections, LB 2823.K5; Elam, Stanley M., ed., A Decade of Gallup Polls of Attitudes Towards Education, 1969–1978 (Phi Delta Kappa, 1978)Google Scholar.

16. “Tax Reform / Ohio / New York / Michigan,” NBC Evening News, March 28, 1969.

17. Author’s analysis of ACIR data, Table 38, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Federal-State-Local Finances: Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, M-79 (Washington, D.C., 1974).

18. See, for example, Life magazine’s 15 August 1969, cover story, “The Dollar Squeeze,” subtitled on the cover, “High Taxes and High Prices Make Everybody Feel Poor.”

19. Author’s analysis of ACIR data, Table 38, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Federal-State-Local Finances: Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, M-79.

20. John F. Kennedy, “Remarks in Heber Springs, Arkansas, at the Dedication of Greers Ferry Dam,” Public Papers of the President (3 October 1963).

21. “We Are All Keynesians Now,” Time (31 December 1965).

22. Franklin Roosevelt, “Address at Worchester, Mass.,” 21 October 1936, Public Papers of the President; Franklin Roosevelt, “Message to Congress on Tax Revision,” 19 June 1935, Public Papers of the President. The classic work on New Deal taxation, which was critical of its claim to progressivity, is Leff, Mark, The Limits of Symbolic Reform: The New Deal and Taxation, 1933–1939 (New York, 2003)Google Scholar. A more recent account notes both the progressive and regressive elements of New Deal Taxation. Thorndike, Joseph, Their Fair Share: Taxing the Rich in the Age of FDR (Washington, D.C., 2013)Google Scholar. Though some of the broader “lessons” about New Deal taxation offered are dubious, at least in this author’s view, see also Joseph Thorndike, “Four Things That Everyone Should Know About New Deal Taxation,” Tax History Project, 20 December 2008 (http://www.taxhistory.org/thp/readings.nsf/ArtWeb/1AEBAA68B74ABB918525750C0046BCAF).

23. “The Pragmatic Professor,” Time (3 March 1961).

24. John F. Kennedy, “Address and Question and Answer Period at the Economic Club of New York,” 14 December 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents; John F. Kennedy, “Radio and Television Report to the American People on the State of the National Economy,” Public Papers of the President (13 August 1962). In proto-“supply side” rhetoric, Kennedy argued, “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.” John F. Kennedy, “Address and Question and Answer Period at the Economic Club of New York,” 14 December 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents.

25. “I would hope that all groups would put the national interest first, and recognize that the prospects for tax reduction and economic growth must not be endangered by squabbles over who is going to get what,” Kennedy said in response. Vincent Burke, “Meany Says Tax Cut Too Slow, For Wrong People,” Atlanta Daily World, 14 March 1963; Meany testimony in President’s 1963 Tax Message, Part 4, 13, 14, 15, and 18 March, Hearings Before the Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives (1963); “Tax Rebate,” Time, 8 March 1963; John F. Kennedy, “The President’s News Conference,” 21 February 1963, Public Papers of the President; Revenue Act of 1963, U.S. Senate Finance Committee, 21–25 October 1963.

26. James Tobin, “Tax Cut Harvest,” New Republic, 7 March 1963.

27. Philip Stern, “The Slow, Quiet Murder of Tax Reform,” Harper’s, 1 December 1963); Philip Stern, The Great Treasury Raid (New York, 1964). For a similar, though not as popular, work from the same period, see Hellerstein, Jerome, Taxes, Loopholes, and Morals (New York, 1963)Google Scholar. Stern’s book received wide review and was a bestseller. For a few reviews, see John Kenneth Galbraith, “Charity Begins at Home in the Form of Loopholes in Our Tax Laws,” New York Times, 8 March 1964; “‘Great Treasury Raid’ Tells of Tax Loopholes,” Appleton Post Crescent, 22 February 1964. For other exposés of tax loopholes from the era, see Henry Taylor, “This Is How American Tax-Dodgers Escape Through Loopholes Abroad,” Los Angeles Times, 16 March 1962; “New Study Shows Loopholes in Tax,” Chicago Defender, 22 February 1958; “Congress Blamed for Tax Loopholes and ‘Injustices’ by Experts at Inquiry,” Washington Post, 10 December 1955.

28. Albert Gore, “How to Be Rich Without Paying Taxes,” New York Times, 11 April 1965; Jack Anderson, “Oil Companies Enjoy Tax Loopholes,” Washington Post, 28 May 1966; Jack Anderson, “Hall Called to Right of Louis XIV, Twenty Fat Cats,” Washington Post, 17 December 1963; Jack Anderson, “U.S. Tax Structure Full of Holes,” Washington Post, 30 March 1963; Art Buchwald, “Tax Shelters,” Washington Post, 2 March 1969; Art Buchwald, “Upper-Class Blues,” Washington Post, 3 August 1969; Jeanne Webber, “This Way to the Tax Shelter,” New York, 17 February 1969; “How to Make Millions and Pay Not a Cent,” Newsweek, 24 February 1969.

29. For national and state-by-state data, see table 9 of Taxable Property Values, 1967 Census of Governments, Volume 2, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Commerce (1968). Nationwide, the assessment to sales price ratio was just under 35 percent for residential property and just over 35 percent for commercial and industrial property.

30. Overall, some states favored businesses and some favored residences. State-level data, however, also concealed much variation, given that assessment was usually a county- or local-level issue. For example, see the state-level data (table 9), as well as the coefficients of dispersion on assessments (table 13–table 16). For information about the changing coefficients of dispersion throughout the 1960s, see Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, The Property Tax in a Changing Environment, M-83 (March 1974).

31. The regressively of the property tax among homeowners is well established in the literature, including official studies. For example, the ACIR found that, in 1970, the poorest homeowners paid nearly 17 percent of their income in property taxes, nationwide, while the richest paid less than 3 percent. Table B-8 in Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, The Property Tax in a Changing Environment, M-83 (March 1974).

32. For example, an Indiana University–Northwest economist who served as adviser to Senator Paul Douglas undertook “a study of ghetto economics” that surveyed Gary businesses and found that black businesses were assessed at higher rates than white businesses in Gary and businesses owned by out-of-town whites were assessed at higher rates than those owned by local whites. Silverman to Babcock, “Preliminary Memo on Lake County Tax Crisis,” 1971, Box 13, Folder 1, Lynd Papers, WHS.

33. For several overviews of the problem of unequal assessments, see “Inequality in Property Tax Assessments: New Cures for an Old Ill,” Harvard Law Review 75, no. 7 (May 1962): 1374–95; Glen W. Fisher and Robert P. Fairbanks, “The Politics of Property Taxation,” Administration Science Quarterly 12, no. 1 (June 1967): 48–71; Sigrid J. Hammond, “Real Property Tax Assessment: A Look at Its Administration Practices and Procedures,” Albany Law Review 38 (1974): 489–523.

34. Michael Harris, “Bad Laws and Crafty Assessors,” The Nation, 13 February 1967; Kuttner, Robert, Revolt of the Haves (New York, 1980), 3134Google Scholar; Problems of Property Tax Administration in California, Interim Committee on Revenue and Taxation, California Assembly (1966); Bob Jackson, “Teapot Dome, West Coast Style,” Washington Post, 29 September 1966; “S.F. Assessor Indicted in Property Tax Probe,” Los Angeles Times, 4 September 1965; “Wolden, Assessor of S.F., Convicted in Tax Bribery Trial,” Los Angeles Times, 29 May 1966; Sydney Kossen, “Oakland Assessor to Go on Trial in Coast Tax Scandals,” Washington Post, 16 February 1966; Bob Jackson, “Tax Scandal Leaves Wake of Broken Careers,” Los Angeles Times, 6 September 1966.

35. Michael Kramer, “The City Politic,” New York Magazine, 12 March 1973; Report by the Commission of Investigation of the State of New York of an Investigation Concerning Real Estate Tax Assessments in the City of New York, State of New York Commission on Investigation (1973); Ralph Blumenthal, “Lindsay to Name a New Tax Chief,” New York Times, 13 March 1973.

36. Peter H. Behr, Oral History Interview, Conducted 1988 and 1989 by Ann Lage, Regional Oral History Office, University of California at Berkeley, for the California State Archives State Government Oral History Program, 314–16.

37. Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, U.S. Senate, Confidence and Concern: Citizens View American Government: A Survey of Public Attitudes by the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations (Washington, D.C. 1973)Google Scholar.

38. Louis Harris, “Majority Is Critical of Tax Loopholes,” Washington Post, 22 September 1969.

39. Author’s analysis, Harris Survey, May 1974. Odum Institute [7485].

40. Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations, U.S. Senate, Confidence and Concern: Citizens View American Government: A Survey of Public Attitudes by the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations (1973).

41. For a sampling of the matching requirements in New Deal and Great Society programs, see Cecile Goldberg, “Development of Federal Grant Allocations,” Social Security Bulletin (September 1947); John Joseph Wallis and Wallace E. Oates,” The Impact of the New Deal on American Federalism” in Michael D. Bordo, Claudia Goldin, and Eugene N. White, eds., The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century (Chicago, 1998); John Joseph Wallis, “The Birth of the Old Federalism: Financing the New Deal, 1932–1940,” Journal of Economic History 44, no. 1 (March 1984); Price V. Fishback and John Joseph Wallis, “What Was New About the New Deal?” NBER Working Paper No. 18271 (August 2012); Price Fishback, Theresa Gutberlet, and John Wallis, “Funding Relief: Fiscal Federalism Under the New Deal,” Working Paper (October 2014) (https://www.ntanet.org/wp-content/uploads/proceedings/2014/064-fishback-gutberlet-wallis-great-depression-new-deal-origins.pdf); John Joseph Wallace, “The Political Economy of New Deal Fiscal Federalism,” Economic Inquiry 29, no. 3 (July 1991); “Medicaid Financing: An Overview of the Federal Medicaid Matching Rate (FMAP),” Kaiser Family Foundation Policy Brief (September 2012); Laura Snyder and Robin Rudowitz, “Medicaid Financing: How Does It Work and What Are the Implications?” Kaiser Family Foundation (20 May 2015); Norman J. Glickman, Laurence E. Lynn Jr., and Robert H. Wilson, “Fifty Years Later: Legacies and Lessons of LBJ’s Domestic Policies,” in Glickman, Lynn, and Wilson, eds., LBJ’s Neglected Legacy (Austin, 2015); Alan Dallman, “The Non-Federal Match Requirement for Head Start: Why Does It Exist and How Does It Affect a Local Head Start Program,” UMass Amherst School of Public Policy (2013).

42. For how this buck-passing unfolded in Ohio, see “Fiscal Position of Ohio, 1970,” B41, F Taxation Misc, JJGP, OHS; John F. Burke and Eric A Weld, “A Commentary on the Public Finances in Ohio,” 3 December 1970, B 460, F Taxes & Finance: State of the State, John J. Gilligan Papers, Ohio Historical Society; Frederick Stocker, “The Rough Road to Tax Reform: The Ohio Experience,” March 1972, 336.2 St62r, OHS.

43. Revenue Act of 1963, Part 2, 21–25 October 1963, Hearings before the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate (1963).

44. “Federal-State Revenue Sharing,” CQ Researcher (http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre1964122300).

45. John F. Kennedy, “Valley Forge Country Club,” 29 October 1960, American Presidency Project (https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/speech-senator-john-f-kennedy-valley-forge-country-club-valley-forge-pa).

46. On the increase in property tax rates on FHA homes, see table 37, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Federal-State-Local Finances: Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, 1981–82 Edition M-135 (April 1983). On median home values, see “Historical Census of Housing Tables, Housing Values” (https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/census/historic/values.html). For FHA data, see Table 26-S, FHA Homes in 1967, Department of Housing and Urban Development (1967) and Table 31-S, FHA Homes 1977, Department of Housing and Urban Development (1977).

47. “Spring 1970 Cost Estimates for Urban Family Budgets,” Monthly Labor Review (January 1971); “Median Family Income Up in 1970,” Current Population Reports: Consumer Income P-60, no. 78 (20 May 1971). See also Levison, Andrew, The Working-Class Majority (New York, 1974), 3133Google Scholar. Indeed, many Americans were aware of their family’s position in relation to the BLS budgets, as demonstrated by references to the BLS budgets during contract negotiations. “$936 a Year Below State Average—Safety Units Rank 50th in Pay,” Youngstown Vindicator, 12 December 1967.

48. Laugh-In drew nearly 20 million viewers each week during the 1968–69 season. Erickson, Hal, “From Beautiful Downtown Burbank”: A Critical History of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, 1968–1973 (Jefferson, N.C., 2000)Google Scholar, 167–68; Elizabeth Kolbert, “Stooping to Conquer,” New Yorker, 19 April 2004; Jack Doyle, “1968 Presidential Race, Republicans,” PopHistoryDig, 11 March 2009; TV Ratings, 1968–1969 (http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1968.htm).

49. Vernon Scott, “George Points the Fickle Finger,” St. Petersburg Times, 5 August 1969.

50. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, NBC, 10 February 1969.

51. “Raise Teachers; Six Unions Wait,” Youngstown Vindicator, 18 November 1966; “School Board OKs Teacher Election, Asks Unity for School Levy Vote,” Youngstown Vindicator, 29 November 1966; “Citizens Panel Launches Drive—YEA Gives $2,164,” Youngstown Vindicator, 7 December 1966; “YFT Officers Urge Members to Back Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, December 8, 1966; “City School Levy Backed by Chamber,” Youngstown Vindicator, December 1966; “Our Problem-Laden Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 8 December 1966; “Election Is Tuesday—Leaders Back School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 11 December 1966; “Wanamaker Asks Votes Tuesday—Schools Face Ax If Levy Fails,” Youngstown Vindicator, 8 December 1966.

52. “City, Struthers Reject Levies; Poland’s Wins,” Youngstown Vindicator, 14 December 1966.

53. “SOS, Save Our Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 30 April 1967; “SOS, Save Our Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 1 May 1967; “Harding Pupils March for School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 30 April 1967; “Citizens’ Advisory Group Grateful for Levy Support,” Youngstown Vindicator, 5 November 1967.

54. “School Tax Levy Table for Radio-TV Tonight,” Youngstown Vindicator, 1 May 1967;

55. “Every Ward Turns Down 7.5 Mills,” Youngstown Vindicator, 3 May 1967.

56. “Citizens’ Advisory Group Grateful for Levy Support,” Youngstown Vindicator, 5 November 1967; “Sample Ballots, Vindicator Recommendations for Tuesday,” Youngstown Vindicator, 5 November 1968; “Churches, Jaycees OK Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 27 October 1967; “Mayor Urges School Levy OK,” Youngstown Vindicator, 10 October 1967.

57. “Another Blow at Education,” Youngstown Vindicator, 8 November 1967; “Zinser Pledges Effort to Maintain Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 8 November 1967; “School Levy Is Backed by Three Groups,” Youngstown Vindicator, 2 May 1968.

58. “Dr. Essex Addresses YEA—Ties Economy to School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 2 May 1968.

59. “Our School System: A Measure of Civic Progress,” Youngstown Vindicator, 6 May 1968; “VOTE YES For the Youngstown School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1968.

60. Clingan Jackson, “School, TB Levies, Income Taxes Fail,” Youngstown Vindicator, 7 May 1968.

61. “New School Levy Vote Could Be Held in June,” Youngstown Vindicator, 7 May 1968.

62. Howard Devon Hamilton and Sylvan H. Cohen, Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974).

63. Pete Sheehan, “Why the Money Ran Out in Youngstown,” Phi Delta Kappan, November 1969, 119; Clarence T. Sheehan, “Will Mean Doors Shut on Nov. 27,” Youngstown Vindicator, 6 November 1968.

64. “School Levy Is Beaten, Fear Strike,” Youngstown Vindicator, 6 June 1968.

65. “Will Close Schools Nov. 27 to January If Levy Is Beaten,” Youngstown Vindicator, 22 October 1968.

66. Pete Sheehan, “Why the Money Ran Out in Youngstown,” Phi Delta Kappan, November 1969, 120; “Give a Damn,” Buckeye Review, 25 October 1968 and 1 November 1968.

67. “Vote for Albert,” Youngstown Vindicator, 20 October 1968; 24 October 1968; 26 October 1968; 27 October 1968; 28 October 1968; 29 October 1968; 31 October 1968; 2 November 1968; 4 November 1968; “Give a Dam,” Buckeye Review, 25 October 1968; 1 November 1968.

68. “School Levy Program on 21 Tonight,” Youngstown Vindicator, 29 October 1968.

69. Clarence T. Sheehan, “Will Mean Doors Shut on Nov. 27,” Youngstown Vindicator, 6 November 1968.

70. “In Youngstown, Ohio, Shutdown of Schools Leaves Children at Home—Bored,” Meriden Journal, 26 December 1968.

71. “School Funds / Ohio,” NBC Evening News, 25 November 1968; Alvin Rosensweet, “Crisis in Youngstown—Vote Against the School Levy,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 19 November 1968.

72. J. Kiriazis and S. Hotchkiss, “Community Attitudinal Survey of Youngstown Voters on the School Tax Levies,” Youngstown State University Archives and Special Collections, LB 2823.K5; “The School and Levies Are a Must,” Buckeye Review, 1 November 1968. The notion of an African American protest vote against the levy was rooted in the reality that Youngstown, like many Midwestern cities, was far from racially egalitarian. However, studies found that Youngstown had the least racial segregation of any major city in Ohio. The city benefited from relatively racially liberal local unions, which aided the easy passage of a fair housing law in 1968. In another barometer of white backlash, Youngstown’s Mahoning County gave George Wallace less than 10 percent of the vote in 1968, compared to 15 percent in Genesee County, Michigan, home of Flint, or 16 percent in Lake County, Indiana, home of Gary. Peter Leahy and Nancy Grant, “Racial Residential Segregation in Ohio’s Eight Largest Cities,” Ohio Journal of Science 85, no. 1 (1985); Michael A. Beverly, African-American Experience in Youngstown (MA thesis, Youngstown State University, 2002); Reverend Lonnie Simon, Oral History, AAM, YSU-ASC, 5, 7; “Fair Housing Aired at First Public Hearing,” Buckeye Review, 18 October 1968; “City Adopts Bar to Bias in Housing,” Youngstown Vindicator, 31 October 1968; “City Council Adopts Fair Housing Law,” 8 November 1968.

73. “Tax Reform / Ohio / New York / Michigan,” NBC Evening News, 28 March 1969.

74. George Gallup, “Second Annual Survey of the Public’s Attitude Toward the Public Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan 52, no. 2 (1 October 1970): 97–112; M. Stanton Evans, “At Home,” National Review, 21 April 1972, B62.

75. Anthony Ripley, “Ohio Teachers Adopt ‘Reverse Strike,’” New York Times, 6 December 1968.

76. “Workers Can’t Afford More, Higher Taxes,” Youngstown Vindicator, 5 November 1969.

77. “Voter Fears Tax Buren If Levy Wins,” Youngstown Vindicator, November 5, 1967.

78. Ibid.

79. Ann Przelomski, “Girls Seek Votes for School Levy—Begin Operation Armband,” Youngstown Vindicator, 6 April 1969.

80. “27,000 Students Ask You to Keep Our Schools Open … Please,” Youngstown Vindicator, 22 April 1969.

81. Ann Przelomski, “Rival Parties Join Giant Levy Campaign—City Uniting Behind Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 13 April 1969; “Educators Meet Today to Aid Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 15 April 1969; “School Board Members Talk at Rally—Asks Teachers Back Levy,” 16 April 1969; Ann Przelomski, “Levy Canvass Opens Friday,” Youngstown Vindicator, 17 April 1969; “Follow the Arm Band to the Polls May 6th,” Youngstown Vindicator, 28 April 1969.

82. “S&T Backs 12-Mill Measure,” Youngstown Vindicator, 30 April 1969; “Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company Supports the School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969.

83. “Realtors Plan Door-to-Door Levy Drive,” Youngstown Vindicator, 29 April 1969.

84. Ibid.

85. “Clubs Unite for School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 26 April 1969.

86. “The School Crisis,” Buckeye Review, 22 November 1968.

87. “Support the School Levy,” Buckeye Review, 11 April 1969.

88. Alvin Rosensweet, “Just Out of Money—Youngstown Ready to Close Schools,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 November 1968; Ann Przelomski, “Levy Canvass Opens Friday,” Youngstown Vindicator, 17 April 1969.

89. “Group Meets County Commissioners—Asks New Taxes for Welfare,” Youngstown Vindicator, 11 April 1969.

90. “10 Children Join All-Night Vigil—Chicken Is ‘Sit-In’ Menu,” Youngstown Vindicator, 22 April 1969.

91. “The Welfare Protest,” Buckeye Review, 2 May 1969.

92. Ann Przelomski, “Tuesday Is Schools’ ‘D-Day’; Face Four-Month Shutdown,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969; Clingan Jackson, “Levy Vote Is Tossup, Final Poll Predicts,” Youngstown Vindicator, May 1969.

93. “School Children Put High Value on Good Education,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969; “Will I Have a Chance to Grow, Too?” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969; “City Schools Spent $623 per Pupil Last Year,” Youngstown Vindicator, 26 April 1969.

94. ‘“Youngstown Students Bottled Up,” 25 April 1969. See, for example, Marie Aikenhead, “Madison School Staff Shows Concern for Pupils,” Youngstown Vindicator, 14 April 1969; Marie Aikenhead, “Sheridan Has Pilot Program on Team Teaching,” Youngstown Vindicator, 20 April 1969; Marie Aikenhead, “Tod School Has Inadequate All-Purpose Room,” Youngstown Vindicator, 24 April 1969; Marie Aikenhead, “Williamson Is One of Most Modern Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 28 April 1969;

95. “300 YSU Students Plan School Levy Canvass; Teachers Aid Drive,” Youngstown State University, 1 May 1969; “Bust Block for Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969.

96. “NAACP Plans Campaign for Next School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 24 January 1969; “NAACP to Push School Levy,” Buckeye Review, 31 January 1969; Ann Przelomski, “Rival Parties Join Giant Levy Campaign—City Uniting Behind Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 13 April 1969.

97. “300 YSU Students Plan School Levy Canvass; Teachers Aid Drive,” Youngstown State University, 1 May 1969.

98. “NAACP Plans Campaign for Next School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 24 January 1969; “NAACP to Push School Levy,” Buckeye Review, 31 January 1969; Ann Przelomski, “Rival Parties Join Giant Levy Campaign—City Uniting Behind Schools,” Youngstown Vindicator, 13 April 1969; “Boost School Levy,” Youngstown Vindicator, 22 April 1969.

99. “*Join the Arm Band,” Youngstown Vindicator, 5 May 1969.

100. Ann Przelomski, “Tuesday Is Schools’ ‘D-Day’; Face Four-Month Shutdown,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969; Clingan Jackson, “Levy Vote Is Tossup, Final Poll Predicts,” Youngstown Vindicator, 4 May 1969.

101. “Survey Reveals Trust in Zinser and Board,” Youngstown Vindicator, 11 April 1969.

102. Levy Returns in Sylvan Cohen, “Voting Behavior in School Refereda: An Investigation of Attitudes and Other Determinants by Q Technique and Survey Research” (PhD., Kent State University, 1971), 31 n. 2.

103. J. Kiriazis and S. Hotchkiss, “Community Attitudinal Survey of Youngstown Voters on the School Tax Levies,” Youngstown State University Archives and Special Collections, LB 2823.K5.

104. Ibid.

105. Ibid.

106. “Taxpayer Revolt Keeps on Rolling,” U.S. News & World Report, 19 May 1969, 81.

107. “‘Taxpayers’ Revolt’ Will Close Schools,” Bryan Times, 7 October 1969.

108. “Voters on Spending: Schools Down, Environment Up,” U.S. News & World Report, 16 November 1970, 60–62; “Levy Defeats: From Curiosity to Commonplace,” Ohio Schools 49, no. 1 (January 22, 1971): 8–9; “Ohio Voters Reject School Levies,” Portsmouth (Ohio) Times, 10 December 1970.

109. Michael Kelley, “Ohio: A Lesson in Arithmetic: No Money Equals No Schools,” New York Times, 31 October 1971.

110. Leonard Buder, “Board of Education Refuses to Take ‘Even One Step Backward’ Because of Budget Reductions,” New York Times, 11 June 1969.

111. Ralph E. Winter, “Strangled Schools,” Wall Street Journal, 18 December 1968.

112. Bruce Biossat, “Schools in Financial Peril as Voters Nix Tax Boosts,” Sumter Daily Item, 1 December 1968.

113. George Taylor, “American Taxpayers Starting to Revolt,” Fredericksburg (Virginia) Freelance Star, 23 April 1968.

114. Harold Howe II, “Why You Should Vote ‘Yes’ on School Bond Issues,” Parents, September 1968, 50.

115. “Taxpayer Revolt Keeps on Rolling,” U.S. News & World Report, 19 May 1969, 81.

116. Lucia Mouat, “Voters in ‘No’ Mood—U.S. Schools Fight Fiscal Pinch,” Christian Science Monitor, 1 January 1969.

117. California data from Meltsner, Arnold J., West, Gregory W., Kramer, John F., and Nakamura, Robert T., Political Feasibility of Reform in School Financing: The Case of California (New York, 1972Google Scholar). Ohio data compiled by author from various sources. See also Richard E. Kelley, “The Diminishing Vote,” Ohio Schools (May 1963): 16–17; Marlowe, Byron H., “Voter Behavior in School Bond and Tax Elections in Ohio,” in A Time for Priorities: Financing the Schools for the 70s: Proceedings of the 13th National Conference on School Finance (National Education Association, 1970)Google Scholar, 158–67; “Levy Defeats: From Curiosity to Commonplace,” Ohio Schools 49, no. 1 (22 January 1971): 8–9. For a national overview of school bond approval rates from 1963 through 1972, see fig. 3–1 in Hamilton, Howard Devon and Cohen, Sylvan H., Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974Google Scholar) and table 1 in Richard Barr and Irene King, Bond Sales for Public School Purposes, 1969–1970 (National Center for Education Statistics, 1971). See also various state tables and graphs in Voter Behavior and Campaign Strategies in School Finance Elections (Educational Research Service, 1977).

118. National Center for Education Statistics, Bond Sales for Public School Purposes (U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Education Division, National Center for Education Statistics, various years).

119. Ralph E. Winter, “Strangled Schools,” Wall Street Journal, 18 December 1968.

120. Among the most important book-length studies of school finance elections (wholly or in large part) are: Piele, Philip K. and Hall, John Stuart, Budgets, Bonds, and Ballots: Voting Behavior in School Financial Elections (New York, 1973Google Scholar); Hamilton, Howard Devon and Cohen, Sylvan H., Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974)Google Scholar; Wirt, Frederick M. and Kirst, Michael W., The Political Web of American Schools (Boston, 1972Google Scholar). Among the dissertations published on school finance election are: Cohen, Sylvan, “Voting Behavior in School Referenda: An Investigation of Attitudes and Other Determinants b Q Technique and Survey Research” (PhD diss., Kent State University, 1971Google Scholar); Cole, Douglas Bowen, “A Study of Factors Influencing Voter Attitude Toward Schools and the Relationship of Those Factors to Voter Support of School Bond Proposals” (EdD diss., Western Michigan University, 1972)Google Scholar; Ginocchio, James S., Fiscal Policy Making by Plebiscite: Local Tax and Bond Referenda in Ohio (PhD diss., Bowling Green State University, 1971Google Scholar); Croskey, Frank Logan, “Socioeconomic Variables as Predictors of School Financial Referenda Voting Behavior” (Ed.D. diss., University of Kansas, 1974Google Scholar); Saafeld, Bernard F., “Taxpayers and Voters: Collective Choice in Public Education” (PhD, University of Oregon, 1972)Google Scholar; Humphrey, Steven Kent, “The Relationship of Administrative, Socioeconomic, and Fiscal Variables to Education Tax Referenda” (Ed.D. diss., Illinois State University, 1980Google Scholar). Each state often featured extensive studies into its school crises. Besides Ohio, which has been well covered in this chapter, Iowa had the following studies conducted in the mid-1960s by outside social scientists to explain its finance election problems: Beal, George M., Lagomarchino, Virgil, and Hartman, John J., “Iowa School Bond Issues: Summary Report” (Ames, 1966Google Scholar); Beal, George M., Lagomarchino, Virgil, Hartman, John J., and Murphy, Judith, “Iowa School Bond Issues: Data Book” (Ames, 1966)Google Scholar; John J. Hartman and George M. Beal, “Role Performance of Selected Individuals and Groups in School Bond Elections,” paper presented at the Rural Sociological Society Meeting in Boston, 24 August 1968.

121. On the working-class “authoritarianism” thesis, see Ehrenreich, Barbara, Fear of Falling (New York, 1989)Google Scholar, and Bell, Daniel, ed., The New American Right (New York, 1955)Google Scholar. On “alienation” and support for figures like Wallace, see Joel D. Aberbach, “Alienation and Political Behavior,” American Political Science Review 63, no. 1 (March 1969): 86–99.

122. On the racialization of the welfare state in the 1960s, see Gilens, Martin, Why Americans Hate Welfare: Race, Media, and the Politics of Antipoverty Policy (Chicago, 2000)Google Scholar. The “public-regardingness” argument came from a 1964 study by influential conservative political scientists Edward C. Banfield and James Q. Wilson. Unfortunately, like many early studies of voting on local initiatives, Banfield and Wilson used precinct-level data. Besides risking the “ecological fallacy,” such studies assumed that the blacks and whites that voted in any given referenda were representative of each group. However, studies of voting behavior found a greater “dropoff” in voting among African Americans than whites, meaning that more blacks than whites would abstain from voting on local tax measures than whites, even if they voted on other issues. The blacks that did vote on the measures, it seems, were much more likely to support local taxes than those that chose not to vote at all. As one St. Louis study found, “lower ballot drop-offs in black areas were associated with lower rates of bond-issue approval; overall, the highest ‘yes’ votes were in black tracts with the highest ballot drop-offs.” Ironically, then, when pro-levy supporters in many cities attempted to boost turnout among African American to increase the likelihood of a levy’s success were counterproductive, since they were aimed at recruiting black voters likely to oppose the levy. James Q. Wilson and Edward C. Banfield, “Public-Regardingness as a Value Premise in Voting Behavior,” American Political Science Review 58, no. 4 (1 December 1964): 876–87. On “dropoff,” see Archer, J. Clark and Reynolds, David R., “Local Logrolling and Citizen Support of Municipal Bond Proposals: The Example of St. Louis,” Public Choice (Fall 1967)Google Scholar; Louis A. Masotti, “Patterns of White and Nonwhite School Referenda Participation and Support: Cleveland, 1960–64,” in Gittell, Marilyn, ed., Educating an Urban Population (Beverly Hills, 1967)Google Scholar, 240–55; Wirt, Frederick M. and Kirst, Michael W., The Political Web of American Schools (Boston, 1972Google Scholar), 103. Examples of studies relying on ecological data that found high black and low white approval rates for taxes and bonds include Edward A. Barrett and Allen J. Cawley, “The Dayton School System: A Case Study of Community Response to Levy Failure,” Urban Education 7 (1972): 261–80; Yong Hyo Cho, “City Politics and Racial Polarization: Bloc Voting in Cleveland Elections,” Journal of Black Studies 4, no. 4 (1 June 1974): 396–417.

123. The literature on racial discrimination in property tax assessment is voluminous. In many cases, higher assessments for blacks were tied to the racism of assessors, as noted above. Additionally, in general, poor and working-class homeowners of all races were likely to face unequal and discriminatory assessments. In many cases, separating racial discrimination from income-based discrimination is difficult. Both undoubtedly existed, sometimes separately, sometimes in concert with one another. Assessors often copied the property tax rolls from previous years, rather than reassessing neighborhoods each year. For well-off neighborhoods, this amounted to an artificial tax break. For downwardly mobile neighborhoods, the process created inflated assessments for all residents of such neighborhoods. Also, the lack of political clout of the residents in many poor or modest-income neighborhoods meant that assessors often had little incentive to grant favorable assessments. For a sampling of the literature on both racial and income-based discrimination and inequality in assessments, see Kenneth K. Baar, “Property Tax Discrimination Against Low-Income Neighborhoods,” Urban Lawyer 13, no. 3 (Summer 1981): 333–406; Edward Greer, “Racial Biases in the Property Tax System,” Review of Radical Political Economics 7 (October 1975): 22–32; Lee Harris, “‘Assessing’ Discrimination: The Influence of Race in Residential Property Tax Assessments,” Journal of Land Use 20, no. 1 (Fall 2004): 1–59. For an excellent historical account of racial discrimination in property tax assessment, see Andrew Kahrl, “The Power to Destroy: Discriminatory Property Assessments and the Struggle for Tax Justice in Mississippi,” Journal of Southern History 82, no. 3 (August 2016); Andrew Kahrl, “Property Tax Discrimination and the Question of Fair Taxation,” History News Network, January 2011 (http://www.hnn.us/article/135752).

124. Little, Arthur D., A Study of Property Taxes and Urban Blight, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (Washington, D.C., 23 April 1973)Google Scholar.

125. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Financing the Schools and the Property Tax: A State Responsibility (Washington, D.C., 1973)Google Scholar, 30, 36.

126. United States, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Fiscal Balance in the American Federal System. Volume 2: Metropolitan Fiscal Disparities (Washington, D.C., 1967), 5Google Scholar.

127. United States, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Fiscal Balance in the American Federal System: Basic Structure of Fiscal Federalism (Washington, D.C., 1967), 12Google Scholar.

128. See The Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa polls of attitudes toward the public schools, 1969–88: A 20-year compilation and educational history (Phi Delta Kappa, 1989)

129. Jennings, Robert E. and Milstein, Mike M., “Citizens’ Attitudes in School Tax Voting,” Education and Urban Society 5 (1973): 299319CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

130. Alexander, Arthur J. and Bass, Gail V., “Schools, Taxes, and Voter Behavior: An Analysis of School District Property Tax Elections” (RAND Corporation/Ford Foundation, 1974), 47Google Scholar.

131. Mound, Josh, “Inflated Hopes, Taxing Times: Fiscal Crisis, the Pocketbook Squeeze, and the Roots of the Tax Revolt” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2015Google Scholar).

132. Hamilton, Howard Devon and Cohen, Sylvan H., Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974)Google Scholar, 106–11. For example, in Sylvania, Ohio, the “Small Group Discussion Committee” deployed 200 volunteers to speak to groups of eight or ten neighborhood residents at a time, with the goal of reaching more than 8,000 homes in the school district. The campaign was coordinated with the “In-service Training and Audio-Visual Materials” subcommittee, which provided materials to others interested in pitching the levy to friends, relatives, and small groups. Finally, the levy committee set up a telephone hotline that rang the superintendent’s office in case any volunteers ran into unexpected questions. “Small Groups Pushing Sylvania Levy,” Toledo Blade, 31 May 1969.

133. A perfect example of a study that focuses on campaign strategies and community communication and attidudes, to the complete exclusion of socioeconomic and structural factors, is Thomas A. McCain and Victor D. Wall, “A Communication Perspective of a School Bond Failure,” Educational Administration Quarterly 12, no. 2 (1 May 1976): 1–17. See also Carroll B. Hanson, “How to Pass a Bond Issue,” School Management 13 (July 1969): 67–69; Charles H. Harrison, “Four Things to Do When the Public Votes No,” Nation’s Schools 87 (May 1971): 92; Charles H. Harrison, “Take These Six Steps to Pass a Bond Issue,” Nation’s Schools 89 (June 1972): 56; Barbara Everitt Bryant, “Get the Taxpayers on Your Team,” School Management 12 (January 1968): 45; Frank C. Mayer, “How to Find Out Why the Voters Said No,” School Management 11 (October 1967): 78–79.

134. Quoted in Hamilton, Howard Devon and Cohen, Sylvan H., Policy Making by Plebiscite: School Referenda (New York, 1974), 7576Google Scholar.

135. Ibid., 108.

136. Ibid., 107.

137. Ibid., 105.

138. Steven J. Weiss and Robert W. Eisenmenger, “The Problem of Redistribution of Federal and State Funds,” paper presented at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston conference, “Financing State and Local Governments,” June 1970.

139. Karl D. Gregory, “Detroit: Crisis in the Central City,” in Fiscal Issues in the Future of Federalism (Committee for Economic Development, 1968), quoted in Steven J. Weiss and Robert W. Eisenmenger, “The Problem of Redistribution of Federal and State Funds,” paper presented at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston conference, “Financing State and Local Governments,” June 1970.

140. Steven J. Weiss and Robert W. Eisenmenger, “The Problem of Redistribution of Federal and State Funds,” paper presented at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston conference, “Financing State and Local Governments,” June 1970.

141. William K. Stevens, “Tax Revolt: 46,00 Shut Out of School,” New York Times, 14 September 1970.

142. “Plan School Closings in St. Louis Area,” Chicago Tribune, 28 September 1970.

143. “When the Dollars Dry Up in Suburbia,” School Management, November 1969, 55–59.

144. Table 5, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Financing the Schools and the Property Tax: A State Responsibility (Washington, D.C., 1973).

145. Edward M. Gramlich, “Infrastructure Investment: A Review Essay,” Journal of Economic Literature 32, no. 3 (September 1994): 1183.

146. Harold Howe II, “Why You Should Vote ‘Yes’ on School Bond Issues,” Parents, September 1968, 50.

147. Freeman, Roger A., Financing the Public Schools, Volume II: Taxes for the Schools (Institute for Social Science Research, 1960)Google Scholar.

148. Dailey to Mitchell, “Competitive Analysis Report #4,” 24 March 1972, Contested, B 30, F 2, RNPL; Daily to Mitchell, “Competitive Analysis Report #5,” 31 March 1972, Contested B 32, F 5, RNPL; Ehrlichman to Connally, 18 April 1972, Confidential, B 3 F [CF] FI-11-Taxation -1971–74], RNPL; Magruder to Mitchell, 6 April 1972, Contested, B 32 F 3, RNPL; McGovern 1972 TV Commercial #14752, JKPA. For an example of a Muskie ad focused on property taxes, see Muskie 1972 TV Commercial #05238, JKPA.

149. Nader to Muskie, 9 August 1970, EMP, B 967, F 10, BCMA.

150. Ralph Nader, “Remarks before the Conference on Property Tax Reform,” 12 December 1970, in The Ralph Nader Reader (Seven Stories, 2009).

151. Navaro and Louis to Mitchel and Cutler, November 1971, Contested, B 27, F 4, RNPL.

152. Ehrlichman to Connally, 18 April 1972, Confidential, B 3 F [CF], FI-11-Taxation -1971–1974]; Colson to Ehrlichman, 13 January 1972, SMOF Engman, B 41, F Taxation: School Finance [2 of 2], RNPL.

153. Richard Nixon, “Address on the State of the Union Delivered Before a Joint Session of the Congress,” 20 January 1972, Public Papers of the President.

154. Nixon 1972 TV Commercial #00358, JKPA.

155. Interview with Lee Enfield Lockwood by Don Nicoll, 21 June 2001, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College; Interview with Lee Enfield Lockwood by Don Nicoll, 18 September 2002, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College.

156. For a full accounting of this story, see Mound, Josh, “Inflated Hopes, Taxing Times: Fiscal Crisis, the Pocketbook Squeeze, and the Roots of the Tax Revolt” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2015)Google Scholar.

157. On Jarvis’s early failures, see Jarvis, Howard, I’m Mad as Hell (Berkeley 1985)Google Scholar and David Koistinen’s highly informative unpublished paper on conservative tax activism in California: “Resentment of Government and Taxes and America’s Shift to the Right: The California Tax Revolt,” March 1999.

158. David Koistinen, “Resentment of Government and Taxes and America’s Shift to the Right: The California Tax Revolt,” March 1999; Lo, Clarence Y. H., Small Property Versus Big Government: Social Origins of the Property Tax Revolt (Los Angeles, 1990)Google Scholar; Sears, David O. and Citrin, Jack, Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (Cambridge, Mass., 1982Google Scholar).

159. Uhler to “All Concerned,” 29 November 1972, Reagan Gubernatorial Papers, B 18, F “Tax Reduction Task Force Seminar,” RRPL; “A Reasonable Program for … Revenue Control and Tax Reduction submitted to the California Legislature by Governor Ronald Reagan, March 12, 1973,” Reagan Gubernatorial Papers, B GO 114, F A Reasonable Program 3/12/73, RRPL. List of Quotes, Undated, Reagan Gubernatorial Papers, B GO 1114, F Californians for Lower Taxes—Weekly Memos (Terry M. Chambers) (1/3), RRPL; “CONTRIBUTORS TO CALIFORNIANS FOR LOWER TAXES - $500 and Over,” Reagan Gubernatorial Papers, B GO 114, F Correspondence (3/5), RRPL. For more on Prop 1, see Burbank, Garin, “Governor Reagan’s Only Defeat: The Proposition 1 Campaign in 1973,” California History 72, no. 4 (Winter 1993/94)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 360–73.

160. Dalzen to Deaver, October 26, 1973, B GO 116, F Initiative Campaign (3/3), RRPL; “Tax Limitation Initiative: Post Election Study,” November 1973, Deaver and Hannaford Records, B 67, F 2, Hoover Institution.

161. See various correspondences between O’Connor and Reagan staffers in Reagan Gubernatorial Files, B GO 114, F Arizona, RRPL. See also Brown, Brent W., “Arizona’s Expenditure and Tax Limitation Proposal: An Analysis,” Papers in Public Administration 28 (1974)Google Scholar.

162. John Chamberlain, “Michigan Will Vote on Tax Issue,” Ludington Daily News, 26 October 1976; Friedman, Milton and Friedman, Rose, Two Lucky People: Memoirs (Chicago, 1998)Google Scholar; Milton Friedman, “Nobel Prize” Address, 27 January 1977; Milton Friedman, “After the Elections,” Newsweek, November 15, 1976. On Prop C, see also materials in TUF, B 1 F Prop C [1 of 3], BHL; TUF, B 2 F Prop C [2 of 3], BHL; TUF, B 2 F Prop C [3 of 3], BHL.

163. “Sound and Fury Over Taxes,” Time (19 June 1978).

164. “Ohio’s Financial Crisis,” Time (January 12, 1970); “Taxpayers to the Barricades,” Time (12 October 1970); “Why Tax Reform Is So Urgent and So Unlikely,” Time (4 April 1969).

165. Reagan Remarks, June 17, 1978, Steiger Papers, B 32A, F 7, WHS.

166. Milton Friedman, “The Message from California,” Newsweek, June 19, 1978.

167. John Davenport, “Voting for Capitalism,” Fortune, July 17, 1978. See other press quotes in Fox, Joel, The Legend of Proposition 13: The Great California Tax Revolt (Bloomington, 2003)Google Scholar.

168. Jimmy Carter, “Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Director,” 28 July 1978, Public Papers of the President.

169. Caddell quoted in Carroll, Peter N., It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: America in the 1970s (New Brunswick, N.J., 1982).Google Scholar

170. McIntyre to Carter, June 9, 1978, Handwriting File, B 90, F 6/12/78 [No. 2] [1], JCPL.

171. See, for example, “Campaign ’78 / Massachusetts Primary: Dukakis and Brooke / Republican Tax Cut Blitz,” CBS Evening News, 20 September 1978; Bill Peterson, “GOP Grabs Tax Cut and Runs with It to Seven States,” Washington Post, 23 September 1978.

172. The “Tax Cut Blitz” is covered extensively in the Steiger papers. See, for example, materials in Steiger, B 43, F 19, WHS.

173. Reagan Remarks, 17 June 17, 1978, Steiger Papers, B 32A, F 7, WHS.

174. “Congress Approves $18.7 Billion Tax Cut,” Congressional Quarterly Almanac (1978); Tax Cut Bill, 1978 Legislative Chronology,” Congress and the nation, 1977–1980 5 (CQ Press, 1980)Google Scholar; Jimmy Carter, “Miami Beach, Florida, Remarks,” Public Papers of the President, October 26, 1978; “Carter to Sign Tax Cut,” Daytona Beach Morning Journal, October 27, 1978.

175. William Schneider, “Punching Through the Jarvis Myth: Prop. 13’s Biggest Booster Was Inflation, Not Anger Against All Government,” Los Angeles Times, June 11, 1978. (Interestingly, the author of the article was a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution.) Between 1960 and 1970, median home values in the U.S. increased from $11,900 to $17,000, before soaring to $47,200 in 1980. In California, rates increased 40 percent between 1958 and 1977, the year before Prop 13. In 1960, the median home price in California was $15,100. By 1980, it was $84,500, a 460 percent increase in value. Even if they usually hit first-time homebuyers, rising sale prices did not necessarily translate into proportional increases assessments for existing homeowners. However, the climb for existing homeowners was still steep. Los Angeles county assessor Alexander Pope revealed that his own home’s assessment had risen from $22,800 in 1963 to $54,700 in 1977, at a time when the property tax rate was rising. Pope was not alone. In 1967, the average owner of an FHA-insured home paid $23 per month in property taxes. By 1977 property taxes had doubled to $56 per month. Accounting for rising incomes, this was a 25 percent increase in property taxes. On the increase in property tax rates on FHA homes, see Table 37, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Federal-State-Local Finances: Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, 1981–82 Edition M-135 (Washington, D.C., April 1983). On median home values, see “Historical Census of Housing Tables, Housing Values” (https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/census/historic/values.html). On Pope’s taxes, see Table 11, David Doerr, California’s Tax Machine (California Taxpayers’ Association, 2008), 186. For FHA data, see Table 26-S, FHA Homes in 1967, Department of Housing and Urban Development (1967) and Table 31-S, FHA Homes 1977, Department of Housing and Urban Development (1977).

176. Table B-3, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, The Property Tax in a Changing Environment, M-83 (March 1974).

177. Census, “Median and Average Sales Prices of New Homes Sold in United States” (http://www.census.gov/const/uspriceann.pdf); California Association of Realtors, Annual Historical Data Summary (2010); Robert Self, “Prelude to the Tax Revolt: The Politics of the ‘Tax Dollar’ in Postwar California,” in Kevin Kruse and Thomas Sugrue, eds., The New Suburban History (Chicago, 2006); Dean C. Tipps, “California’s Great Property Tax Revolt: The Origins and Impact of Proposition 13,” in Dean Tipps and Lee Webb, eds., State and Local Tax Revolt: New Directions for the 80s (Conference on Alternative States and Local Policies, 1980); “3 Homeowners in Pain,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 4, 1975; Table 10, David Doerr, California’s Tax Machine (California Taxpayers’ Association, 2008)

178. Jack Citrin and Frank Levy, “From 13 to 4 and Beyond: The Political Meaning of the Ongoing Tax Revolt in California,” in Kaufman, George G. and Rosen, Kenneth T., eds., The Property Tax Revolt: The Case of Proposition 13 (Pensacola, 1981)Google Scholar.

179. Authors’ analysis of data from “CBS News/New York times Monthly Poll,” June 1978 (ICPSR 4495). See also Sears, David O. and Citrin, Jack. Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (Cambridge, Mass., 1982)Google Scholar.

180. William Keating, Rent Control in California, UC-Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies (1983); William Tucker, “How Rent Control Drives Out Affordable Housing,” CATO Policy Analysis 274 (21 May 1997); Chris Kavanagh, “Celebrating 25 Years of Rent Control,” BeyondChron, 18 January 2006 (http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=2846); David O. Sears and Jack Citrin. Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), 33–34; Sears, David O. and Citrin, Jack. Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), 3334Google Scholar; Peter Dreier, “Rent Deregulation in California and Massachusetts: Politics, Policy, and Impacts - Part II,” 14 May 1997 (http://tenant.net/alerts/guide/papers/dreier/dreier.pdf). Jeremy Rosenberg, “The Fight Against Rent Control,” KCET, 4 March, 2013 (http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/columns/laws-that-shaped-la/saying-no-to-rent-conrol.html). On similar movements for rent control in New Jersey, see Kenneth Baar, “Rent Control in the 1970s: The Case of the New Jersey Tenants’ Movement,” Hastings Law Journal 28 (January 1977). On rent control movements more broadly, including a case study of Santa Monica, see Capek, Stella and Gilderbloom, John, Community Versus Commodity: Tenants and the American City (Albany, N.Y., 1992)Google Scholar.

181. Authors’ analysis of data from “CBS News/New York Times Monthly Poll,” June 1978 (ICPSR 4495). See also Sears, David O. and Citrin, Jack, Tax Revolt: Something for Nothing in California (Cambridge, Mass., 1982)Google Scholar.

182. Author correspondence with Mike Miller, 3 June 2012.

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Stirrings of Revolt: Regressive Levies, the Pocketbook Squeeze, and the 1960s Roots of the 1970s Tax Revolt
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Stirrings of Revolt: Regressive Levies, the Pocketbook Squeeze, and the 1960s Roots of the 1970s Tax Revolt
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Stirrings of Revolt: Regressive Levies, the Pocketbook Squeeze, and the 1960s Roots of the 1970s Tax Revolt
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