Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Frederick R. Lynch

Reader 2

Kenneth P. Miller

Rights Information

2023 Julian Amaya


This paper addresses the relationship between Proposition 13 and public school funding in California. Proposition 13 capped local property tax increases at one percent and reset property value assessments to the 1975-76 level. Proposition 13 decreased local property tax revenues and limited the ability of local governments to raise taxes going forward. Proposition 13 has been widely criticized for its effects on the local and state financial system, and the adverse effects it had on the ability of the state to provide public services such as education. Proposition 13 passed by a vote of 65 percent to 35 percent, and demographic trends prior to 1978 provide context for why it passed and how. Proposition 13 was a retaliation against rising taxes and big government, but the effects it had on California’s education system are well researched. The fundamental change in how schools are financed is largely due to the reduction in local government funding from Proposition 13. California’s education system became underfunded following Proposition 13 and education levels are only now recovering back to the national average. An analysis of how California’s public schools are funded today shows an increase in equity, yet the state remains one of the worst across several education metrics when adjusted for cost in living. Recent propositions triggered an overhaul of education funding, and these trends suggest that California is heading towards a more equitable education system. The assumption that increased per-pupil funding will provide better results is being tested, but there is no guarantee that funding is the sole answer to a healthy education system.