Split-Roll Measure Now Aimed for 2020 Ballot, Coinciding With Presidential Election

Supporters of an initiative that would impose a split-roll property tax announced late April 6 that they are focusing on qualifying the measure for the 2020 ballot rather than this November’s ballot – a move that gives them more time to gather the signatures needed to place the measure before the voters, and would put the tax increase on the same ballot as a presidential election expected to draw many left-leaning voters to the polls.

CalTax President Teresa Casazza noted that CalTax and others who oppose the major tax increase on California employers will continue to educate the public about the measure’s negative impact on California jobs and economic growth, and to refute misinformation propagated by split-roll activists.

“The split-roll tax increase would destroy the stability of our state’s property tax system by removing the cap that keeps property taxes predictable for California businesses,” Casazza said. “The only beneficiaries would be the 49 other states that are in a constant competition to lure jobs and investments out of California.”

Casazza is co-chair of Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes, a coalition of small businesses, taxpayers and business associations formed to increase public education and awareness about the importance of protecting the existing property tax structure.

While split-roll activists argue that their initiative would address alleged problems caused by Proposition 13, the 1978 property tax reform measure approved by 64.8 percent of the vote, a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll found that support for Proposition 13 is higher now than it was 40 years ago. The poll found that 65 percent of likely voters believe Proposition 13 “has turned out to be mostly a good thing for California,” compared to just 23 percent who said it was mostly a bad thing.

In February, another PPIC poll found that support for a split-roll property tax is at its lowest point among likely voters since the organization began asking about it in 2012 (down from 60 percent in favor in 2012 to 46 percent in favor now). Yet another PPIC poll released this week indicated that when a split-roll question is asked in the context of a survey about education funding, respondents are more likely to support the idea, but at a level that barely cracks the majority threshold.

In this week’s poll, PPIC asked: “As you may know, under Proposition 13, residential and commercial property taxes are both strictly limited. What if there was a state ballot measure to have commercial properties taxed according to their current market value and direct some of this new tax revenue to state funding for K-12 public schools? Would you vote yes or no?” Of likely voters, 53 percent said they would vote yes. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percent for results relating to likely voters.

The California League of Women Voters and other proponents of the split-roll initiative have until August 20 to submit at least 585,407 signatures to elections officials.


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