Schools and Communities First! Vote YES on Proposition 15

Dillon Savory / October 1, 2020 /

via Fred Glass, The California Labor Federation


For California workers, their families and friends, a vote for Prop 15 on this November’s state ballot should be a no-brainer.  For more than 40 years the state of California has been robbed of billions of dollars a year by a corporate tax loophole.  Unlike in virtually every other state in the country, here commercial property owners don’t pay taxes on current market rate assessments of their property’s value.  Instead, they pay based on what the property was worth when they purchased it.

For large corporate property owners — think Disney, Apple, Chevron — this means they pay taxes on a fraction of the actual worth of their properties.  It is estimated that Chevron alone lines its shareholders’ pockets with $100 million each year in stolen tax savings.  Ever wonder why public education and local services like transportation and health are perpetually starved of funding in the richest state in the richest country in the world?  Look no farther.

In all it is estimated that by this simple change—basing commercial property tax assessment on current market value, instead of purchase price—state revenues will increase by some 10 to 12 billion dollars a year.  The money will go to public schools (40%) and local services (60%).

Job losses and unemployment figures this year are higher than they have been since the Great Depression.  Working people desperately need assistance they are not receiving from the Trump administration.  It is estimated that the hole blown in the state budget by the Pandemic Depression is about 25%, or close to $50 billion.  We know from the Great Recession of 2008-2010 that this will mean enormous job losses among public employees.

Each job lost in the public sector translates into services lost for the public.  Teachers and other school employees furloughed or laid off or whose jobs are simply eliminated mean a greater burden for the workers who remain and rising class sizes and fewer resources for the students they serve.  Public transportation cuts means lost bus routes and fewer trains.  Cuts to firefighting budgets and public health budgets—the list goes on, right down to checking air and water quality.  And since it is estimated that each good union job in the public sector creates another 1.3 jobs in the private sector, likewise each one lost triggers similar private sector job losses.

These cuts are in the works now, and Prop 15 is one of the only mechanisms standing against more of them.  So what could possibly be argued against this common sense measure?

Following a familiar script, the opposition, led by the Chamber of Commerce and ultra-conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is running a scare campaign full of lies.  Here’s but a sample.

“First they are coming for commercial property, then they are coming for your homes.”

Well, no.  Prop 15 explicitly exempts residential property of all kinds—homeowners, landlords and renters alike will not be touched.

“Small businesses will be ruined.”

Well, no.  Prop 15 exempts all commercial property below $3 million in value, and provides a tax cut on business equipment that will mostly benefit small businesses.

“All the corporations will leave California and take all their jobs with them.”

Well, no.  They said the same thing in 2012 and 2016 when we successfully raised income taxes on the richest two percent of Californians.  Guess what?  Since then, before the pandemic hit, California saw an increase of tens of thousands of millionaires. The truth is that something that will benefit all Californians is just chump change to large corporations.

“The last thing we need during a pandemic Depression is more taxes.”

This isn’t “more taxes”, by which the opposition is implying, “taxes on everyone”.  It is a specific tax on a relative few specific people.  92% of the revenues generated from Prop 15 will come from just 10% of the properties in the state—in other words, large corporate property owners.

Don’t be conned by the lies.  Don’t let corporate greed, squeezing every last penny out of a tax loophole, continue to rob students of a quality education and local residents of their public transportation, health, and safety.

Vote Yes on Prop 15.

Visit Yes15.org to learn more!

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