Split-Roll Initiative

Split-Roll Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

Casting Ballot

The split-roll property tax initiative has qualified for the November ballot, the Secretary of State’s Office announced today.

Qualification was expected, as proponents submitted approximately 1.7 million signatures to county election offices in April – roughly 700,000 more than needed to qualify.

The “Schools and Communities First” measure (Initiative 19-0008) seeks to repeal Proposition 13 protections for commercial and industrial property owners, and require market-value reassessment of commercial and industrial properties every three years. Proponents estimate that the changes would amount to a property tax increase of $12 billion per year on the owners of these properties.

“Proposing a massive property tax increase during a pandemic is the surest way to keep businesses closed in California,” CalTax President Robert Gutierrez said. “Californians need a life-preserver, and the special interests threw them an anchor.”

Proponents of the tax increase, including the California Teachers Association, the Service Employees International Union and other public employee unions, are attempting to convince voters that the measure would help communities that are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In their messaging, the proponents falsely claim that the measure would increase taxes only on a small percentage of large corporations, and would not impact small businesses, farmers and all consumers.

The opposition campaign has assembled a growing coalition of Democrats, Republicans, small business owners, farmers, veterans and many others to spread the word that the split-roll measure would result in higher consumer costs, lost jobs and business closures.

Opponents also are informing voters that despite the proponents’ claims about using proceeds of the tax hike to fight COVID-19, no revenue would appear until 2022 at the earliest.

The opposition campaign, Californians to Save Prop 13 and Stop Higher Property Taxes, is online at https://stophigherpropertytaxes.org/.

The split-roll initiative was introduced to replace an earlier version (Initiative 17-0055) that qualified for the November ballot more than a year ago but has flaws acknowledged by its supporters.

June 25 is the deadline for finalizing ballot measures, and the proponents have until then to withdraw the first version – and potentially withdraw the new version as well, although that likely would occur only if another tax increase on California businesses is approved by the state or placed on the ballot by the Legislature.