Vote Yes on Proposition 15: Ignore the Corporate Lies and Put Our Schools and Communities First

by on September 28, 2020 · 9 comments

in California, Election, Under the Perfect Sun

Disney’s corporate headquarters in Burbank is among the properties that will be subject to Proposition 15.

By Jim Miller

With the economic and budgetary crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are anxious about upcoming budget cuts at the state and local levels that will harm education and local services.  It can be a helpless feeling waiting for the shoe to drop, but, in this case, with Proposition 15 on the ballot this November 3rd, there is something we can do about it—pass Prop 15 and bring billions of dollars of new, ongoing revenue into the system.

Proposition 15 will require that commercial property valued at more than $3 million be reassessed at fair market value every three years.

  • This closes a loophole that large corporations have used for decades to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes.
  • The richest 10% of corporate properties will provide 92% of the revenue.
  • Prop 15 specifically exempts all residential properties and agricultural land, maintaining full Prop 13 protections for homeowners, renters, and agriculture.

Thus, when opponents of Prop 15 talk about it raising property taxes on individual homeowners or crushing small businesses, they are simply lying.  The truth is that huge corporate property owners who have been taking advantage of this loophole for years want to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.  So corporate-funded ad campaigns are spewing falsehoods about Proposition 15 to protect the interest of companies like Chevron and the Disney Corporation.

With the potential of huge budget cuts to our schools, colleges, and communities on the horizon, the $12 billion of revenue annually will do a lot to help shore up education and other services in California in the years to come.  It would be a centerpiece of what we hope will be a just recovery from the current crisis.  We don’t simply want to stop cuts, we want to ensure our communities have a consistent, stable revenue stream to help build a better future.

More specifically, Prop 15 is estimated to reclaim $700 million for our region. Public schools, community colleges, local governments, and services will all get a share of the revenue generated by making wealthy corporations pay their fair share in property taxes.

By now you have seen the corporate funded TV commercials featuring barber shops and small businesses going under after an evil property tax increase.  The truth is that small businesses will not be affected in any way whatsoever, but the anti-15 forces are using this imagery because they know you won’t get all teary and sympathetic if they feature an oil company.  Hence, the lie.

The same holds for the bogus claim in the TV ads that “they” are coming to raise your property tax on your home.  Individual homeowners are completely exempted in Proposition 15, but the corporate opponents of the measure know this is a lie that will scare you, so they use it.  This is the fox telling you he’s here to protect the chicken coop.  Don’t buy it.

As the Los Angeles Times editorial board argued in its endorsement of Proposition 15, voters should reject the appeals to fear and view the measure through “a lens of hope”:

At long last there is a tangible fix in sight for one of California’s most intractable problems: a wildly unfair and lopsided property tax system that for four decades has starved local governments of the revenue they need to provide services and that has distorted the cost of buying a house and starting a business, to the detriment of young families and entrepreneurs.

It’s not a complete fix, but a crucial first step to undo some of the damage wrought by Proposition 13, the 1978 “tax revolt” initiative that rolled back property taxes in California and capped them at 1% of the purchase price, with annual increases in the assessed value limited to 2%. Local governments and school districts rely on property tax revenue to pay for services like street repair, law enforcement and classroom instruction. After Proposition 13 passed, property tax payments dropped by about 60%. They’ve been struggling to catch up ever since . . .

Proposition 15 would begin to pave the way toward a fairer tax system and provide the means to start rebuilding the foundation of a once-great state whose glory has been fading over the last 42 years. In these dark times, it’s tough to imagine that there can be a bright future ahead for California. It’s possible, but only if we act without fear today.

Be fearless. Vote yes on Proposition 15.

Amen.  After the watching the rich and corporations make out like bandits during the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis while our electeds stood aside and/or aided the billionaire bonanza, it’s time for voters to make sure that corporations finally pay their fair share and help fund a just recovery.

Don’t mourn about what we will lose, organize and help do what you can pass Proposition 15 this November 3rd!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Lyle September 28, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Prop 15 looks like a slippery slope to me.

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Avatar Geoff Page September 28, 2020 at 2:46 pm

No, it’s not Lyle. Prop 13 was passed by the voters. It cannot be changed without a public vote. Prop 15 is about changing the specific mistake described in this article. Prop 13 was intended to ensure elderly home owners would not be driven from their properties by tax increases as the home values rose. It was not intended to benefit business as it has. Homeowners have nothing to worry about, the only way to change taxes on homeowners would be to propose another initiative to vote on. The chances of that ever passing are zero. Don’t let the advertising and lies by the business interests trying to defeat Prop 15 fool you.

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Avatar lyle September 28, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Your comment looks reasonable, but couldn’t you make exactly the same argument re: prop 30 ? Many people seem to think prop 30 is the first step of a slippery slope to elimination of the 30-foot height limit at the beach. Many prop 30 proponents are saying the limit wasn’t meant to apply to Midway.

I am questioning why there is a slippery slope in one case, but not the other, when both prop 13 and the 30′ limit were passed by the voters. I’m not saying you have used the slippery slope argument re:prop 30, but it has been used quite a lot.

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Avatar Geoff Page September 28, 2020 at 4:15 pm

These are two very different items, Lyle. Prop 15 is a statewide initiative and any other changes would also require a statewide vote. An initiative to raise personal property taxes statewide would fail miserably. That is the only possible result of any slippery slope argument. There is no other place to go with that.

Measure E is a City of San Diego only vote about a relatively small part of the whole city. There are other areas, such as all the land from Sports Arena to Nimitz, for which the same argument can be made. A chunk at a time could be proposed. The term does apply to the height limit.

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Avatar lyle September 28, 2020 at 4:55 pm

Aha ! That is a significant difference that I hadn’t consdered. I am now thinking that the difference is not so much the fact of a state- or city-wide vote but of the state-wide concern vs. what is not necessarily a city-wide concern. I realize what happens in the Coastal Zone is everyone’s business, but those who live here do have a different perspective, and thus vote differently. Taxes are taxes no matter where you live. I have some good friends who live in Rancho Bernardo who can’t understand why we are fussing so much about prop30 and STVRs. (sorry for the diversion).

I am still flabbergasted about the time a few years ago that I was asked to vote for/against Barrio Logan’s community plan. I thought that was really goofy. I spent a few minutes research to find out how the BL residents felt and voted accordingly.

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Avatar lyle September 28, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Also, do you have any references that say prop 13 “not intended to benefit business as it has” ? I voted for prop 13, and don’t rember that being the case. The Howard Jarvis Association (who should know the original intent) say to reject prop 15. https://www.hjta.org/california-commentary/prop-13-is-working-reject-prop-15/

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Avatar lyle September 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm

oops. Please excuse my two grammer mistakes. I don’t know how to go back and fix them.

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Avatar Dean September 28, 2020 at 10:05 pm

I thought the difference was “I” a person buys a house and pay the new assessment of the property value and if “I” corporation buys a property I pay the current assessment and not the new assessment which can be higher after 10-20-30-40 years?

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Avatar Geoff Page September 29, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Yes, Dean, that is how it is supposed to work But, as one article explained the problem briefly, “Corporate properties are almost never sold like a private home; the name of the company may change, as does its board of directors or shareholders, but corporate real estate is typically not sold separately or outright.”

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