Gov. Pete Wilson said recently thawt he would join in a friend-of-the-court brief to defend Proposition 13 against a challenge pending against it before the U.S. Supreme Court.

At a recent press conference, the governor said he opposes having the high court overturn the property tax initiative -- which was approved by voters in 1978 -- because such a decision would create chaos in California's tax system and complicate the state's fiscal problems

The landmark tax law capped property tax rates at 1% of the parcel's assessed value, with small increases allowed only to accommodate inflation.

But a California homeowner has argued that California's property tax system violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because it assesses new buyers at their home's purchase price while freezing assessments for long-term homeowners at 1975 levels.

The Supreme Court in October agreed to hear the challenge by Stephanie Nordlinger, a Baldwin Hills resident who says she pays five times as much in property taxes as her neighbors because she has only recently become a homeowner.

The California Supreme Court in 1978 upheld Proposition 13 as a rational basis for setting property tax rates.

Gov. Wilson said that he would be joined by some state lawmakers and other in submitting a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the constitutionality of Proposition 13.

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