In 2008, then-Governor Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto power to eliminate $150 million in tax rebates to low-income elderly and disabled renters. This was the governor's single biggest line-item veto in the budget, eliminating all funding for renters under the Senior Citizens Renters Tax Assistance program.
The program, in effect for decades, makes senior and disabled renters who earn less than $44,096 eligible for up to $347.50 as a tax rebate. In its last funded year, 467,000 tenant households received payments under this program. The average payment was $316 per recipient.
Low-income seniors relied on these funds, and many had already filed applications for the tax rebate for 2008. With the governor's veto, the Franchise Tax Board refused to pay these claims.
Tenants Together worked with allies across the state to fight to restore these funds for low-income senior and disabled renters. We launched a statewide day of actions in November 2008 that sparked rallies across the state. But the plunging economy and the lack of leadership for renters in Sacramento combined to kill any chance of restoring these funds in 2008.
Although the renters' rebate remains on the books as a program, it has been unfunded for several years. If you want to see this critical program restored, contact your legislators today and let them know how you feel. We will let our members know if funding is restored, so if you are not on our email list, please sign up for it at the top of this webpage.
The 2014 budget year is the first since the veto in which the state has a budget surplus. Advocates are demanding that the program be funded as it was for years before the line item veto in 2008. Restoration of the renters' rebate is one of our demands for our Renters' Day of Action - March and Rally on Sacramento this year.
Unfortunately the 2014 bill did not pass out of the Senate Appropriations committee.