Is it true? I've culled some data and made some charts to investigate (all charts can be enlarged by clicking on them). First, let's see the California budget from 1970 to present:
So naturally, the budget would increase. So let's look at the budget per capita:
I still challenge anyone to guess when Proposition 13 was passed. Wait, I hear you! What about inflation? Yes, this has a major effect, let's see California's budget in constant 1970 dollars:
Was Proposition 13 passed in, say, 1993? 2008? Well, for a final chart, let's see the budget per capita in 1970 dollars:
OK, time to end the riddle. Proposition 13 was passed by the voters of California in June of 1978. That year, California's per capita budget was about $371 1970 dollars. It peaked in 2008 at a bit over $690 and, even in the teeth of the recession and California's budget crisis, the most recent year stood at $538 or 45% higher than before Proposition 13 took effect.
In an earlier post I showed the outflow of funds from California to the Federal government, and certainly the cost of undocumented immigrants (or illegal aliens, depending on your political orientation) in the educational and criminal system has had a major effect. But that population is included (as much as possible) in the census data from which the per capita figures are derived.
For these reasons, I have a very hard time developing sympathy for the crocodile tears shed by the political class over the devastation wrought by Proposition 13. Full disclosure: I am a homeowner.