*****Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and is for educational purposes only. This does not create an attorney-client privilege.
We are in another election year and it is (nearly past) time to start considering not only who you want to vote for as president and to represent you regionally, but also to start doing your research on the measures on the California State Ballot this year. Or alternatively, you can follow this series of blog posts to get a summary of what's at stake with each measure, who is in support of and opposed to it, and a progressive's guide on checking No or Yes.
The second statewide measure on the California Ballot this election cycle is Proposition 15, Schools and Communities First. This proposition is for increasing funding for public schools, community colleges and local government sources by adjusting property taxes based on the current market value, instead of based upon the purchase price. If passed, it will have a fiscal impact of increasing taxes on commercial properties valued over $3 million. Altogether this would amount to between $6.5 billion and $11.5 billion in available tax funds for schools and local governments.
A vote for YES on this would mean some of the wealthiest individuals, with properties valued at over $3 million would be taxed more fairly, at rates that reflect their properties actual value, in order to provide much needed funding for education and local governments. It is essentially ending a tax loophole that has been giving billions of dollars to wealthy investors and large commercial property owners.
It is a fair and balanced reform to mending the disparities in our tax system. Not only does it adjust taxes on the wealthiest to better reflect their property values, but it also would cut taxes for small businesses and protect renters and homeowners while funding K-12 public schools, community colleges and local government sources. It also ensures accountability by requiring full transparency. This proposition is supported by a wide array of groups, including teachers, nurses, affordable housing advocates, small business owners and community organizations.
A vote for NO on this proposition would mean property taxes on commercial properties would remain unchanged to reflect their current property values, and schools and local government projects would not receive new funding. The arguments against it are that it will “increase taxes by $12.5 billion”, but the reality is this is all coming from the wealthiest. California has plenty of billions and millionaires that are not paying their fair share, while the shrinking middle class bears a tax burden that is much greater proportionally.
Our recommendation would be to vote YES on Prop 15! It is a fair and balanced approach that aims to make the wealthiest pay their fair share, without increasing taxes on the majority of CA residents. Our schools and local governments have already been suffering from a lack of funding for years, but the need for funding is likely to be ever exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is worthwhile to notice many of the wealthiest (like Bezos and Musk) have actually increased their wealth during this pandemic, meanwhile people of middling and lower incomes are struggling. Those who have more than the many combined can afford to pay more to invest in communities that sorely need it.