Split-Roll Initiative

Poll Shows Support for Split-Roll Measure Still Hovering Near 50 Percent

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Support for the split-roll property tax initiative continues to hover near 50 percent, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reported April 22 in its latest poll on the measure.

The PPIC found that 53 percent of likely voters expressed support for a split-roll property tax increase when asked as part of a survey on public education issues, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent (this means that 95 times out of 100, the results will be within approximately 3.7 percentage points of what they would be if all adults in California were interviewed, the PPIC explained).

The pollster did not use the same wording that will appear on the November ballot, and did not mention that the tax increase would result in lost jobs, higher consumer costs and higher housing costs for Californians.

“In a poll that didn’t mention the job losses, higher food costs or the other problems with the November property tax increase, the flawed measure still didn’t have enough support to get past the margin of error,” CalTax President Robert Gutierrez said. “Californians are learning about the impact this property tax increase would have on their family budgets and jobs, and will reject this tax increase in November.”

The split-roll question was asked in the context of a larger survey on public education, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on schools, school quality and other education issues.

The question posed to the survey’s 1,633 respondents: “As you may know, under Proposition 13 passed by the California voters in 1978, 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?”

Among likely voters, 53 percent answered “yes,” 47 percent said “no,” and 1 percent said they don’t know. Among all respondents, the answers were 53 percent “yes,” 46 percent “no,” and 2 percent “don’t know,” and the margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percent.

The poll was conducted via telephone from April 1 through April 9, in English and Spanish.

In other split-roll news:

Initiative Would Be Impossible to Implement Under Hiring Freeze, Los Angeles County Assessor Says. Implementing the split-roll initiative would be “a difficult hill to climb” under normal conditions but would be nearly impossible to implement now that Los Angeles County has instituted a hiring freeze, Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang said April 21 during testimony to the State Board of Equalization.

“With a hiring freeze it will be a near-impossible task for us to implement should it be adopted,” Prang said.

Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone has stated repeatedly that the split-roll initiative is severely flawed and could not be implemented even under the best of conditions.

“It’s not just difficult, it’s impossible,” Stone told the East Bay Times last year. “It would bring chaos to the system.”

Initiative Would Increase Energy Costs for Californians. The split-roll initiative would eliminate an incentive that encourages solar energy production, ultimately raising energy costs for California families, Californians to Save Prop 13 and Stop Higher Property Taxes noted April 22 (Earth Day).

In 1980, California voters approved Proposition 7 to exempt newly constructed solar energy systems from property taxes and create an incentive for solar energy production in California. The split-roll initiative would eliminate this incentive and subject all active solar energy systems to property taxes at their current market value as of January 1, 2022.

In addition to increasing property taxes on solar systems installed on farms and business properties, the measure would impact solar energy facilities that sell renewable energy to California utilities, leading to higher household utility bills for families.