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Howard Jarvis and his wife Estelle successfully led a tax revolt in California, concluding with Proposition 13 being passed in June 1978. The proposition called for a reduction in the amount of money the state could levy off residents. Property taxes were cut by 57%, which until then was rising at a galloping pace as the value of land appreciated relative to incomes.

Howard's actions had a greater impact as a symbol of citizen initiated reaction against what was perceived as big government. However with less revenue successive Californian governments found it harder to sustain public services. Indirectly the LA riots and the brownouts could be attributed to Proposition 13.

He set up the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and campaigned against other taxation regimes until his death in 1986.

Howard cameoed in the comedy film Airplane! as the passenger who waits in the taxi for the driver to return while the meter keeps running.

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