Voter beware — the Sacramento politicians are at it again! Last election cycle, the politicians deceived voters at the ballot box and drastically raised our gas and car taxes. This time around, they want to raise the price of everything you purchase – all while decimating jobs across the state. This could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back and destroys the middle class and the California Dream as we know it. The upside: we can stop it, if we stand together.
In 1978, Californians overwhelmingly passed the “People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation,” or as it’s more commonly known, Proposition 13. This limited property tax to one percent of the full cash value. More importantly, it also limited property tax increases to no more than two percent each year. In a high-tax state like California, this measure has been a major success for businesses AND residents. Prop 13 has provided much needed stability in terms of state revenue while also protecting citizens and their businesses from constant tax increases at the whim of out-of-control politicians.
Now, Prop 13 is under attack! Politicians have placed a ballot measure on the November 2020 ballot to massively raise commercial and industrial properties. Worse, the politicians have shamelessly disguised the measure as a way to give more money to schools – which already receive over $60 billion in the California state budget. That is almost one-third of the entire state budget.
This attack – called Split Roll – would take Prop 13 protections AWAY from commercial and industrial properties. While you may breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that the property tax rate on your home won’t change, it’s not safe: Sacramento will be all too eager to raise YOUR property taxes during the next election cycle if this passes.
If Split Roll passes – effectively raising commercial and property taxes – the impact will be felt by working families all over the state. The current booming economy and historically low unemployment rate will reverse almost overnight as employers will be forced to layoff employees or worse – close their doors permanently.
Let’s take a simple example of the devastating impact that Split Roll would have on a small business. Joe and Jane Smith bought a commercial space for their business in 1980. They do a moderate amount of business each year and have three employees. Their property taxes were originally $10,000 per year based on their purchase price of the space, and because of Prop. 13’s protections, their property taxes are now $17,880 per year in 2019.
Now, imagine the Split Roll measure passes in 2020: the Smiths’ commercial property taxes will now be evaluated at “fair market value.” The surrounding neighborhood has grown tremendously, and property values have increased significantly over the past few decades and are hit with a massive, new property tax bill of $65,000 per year.
Now their small business suddenly must choose between keeping the doors open or keeping several dedicated employees. While it may be a simple example, it is a very real scenario facing millions of Californians. And even if the Smiths’ business can withstand a $47,000 increase in taxes, they’ll likely have no choice but to raise their prices – ultimately hurting consumers!
How can we stop it? Don’t sign the petitions you’ve probably seen at your local grocery stores and shopping malls – they have the audacity to tell you that they are “saving Prop 13” when the end result is that it destroys Prop 13. They need to collect over one million signatures and will pull all sorts of tricks in order to do so.
We also must spread the word –– help explain to your family and friends about this horrible ballot measure and make sure they aren’t fooled into signing the petition. Remember, voters across the political spectrum support and rely on the current protections in Prop. 13.
Finally, help Reform California build the coalition to fight back: be a part of our effort and get your local community involved. We’re also raising the funds to mount a strong opposition campaign to this dangerous ballot measure.
Together we can make sure that voters are informed and educated about yet another deceptive ballot measure designed to drain the wallets of hardworking families across California. Sacramento politicians can be beat, but only through the collective, grassroots efforts of citizens standing up and saying enough is enough! This state has driven out millions of residents due to high taxes already — and we cannot allow another tax increase to drive out all of our jobs and businesses, too.
Dave McCulloch is the President of Reform California.