Prop 15 in California

53% of likely voters support the passage of Prop 15.

A poll of likely voters conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that 53% of voters support its passage.  These are encouraging results but also indicate that we still need to work hard to assure victory.

40% of the funds raised by SCF would go to education funding.

60% will go to local communities (counties, cities, and special districts) for things like road construction, parks, and emergency services.

SCF will not impact any residential properties. This includes houses, apartment buildings, retirement homes, mobile home parks, second homes, and hotels that have been converted to low income housing. Even if a property is zoned as commercial, it will still be counted as residential property if it is used as residential.

Mixed use property will likely be exempt from reassessment if over 75% of the property is used for residences. If property is under 75% residential, the tax rate will be calculated based on the proportion of commercial to residential square footage. 

Prop 15 includes protections for small businesses. Property worth less than $3 million will be exempt from reassessment. In addition, all businesses will receive a business property credit to reduce the overall tax bill. Delayed reassessment for property taxes will also be available to small businesses.

No. California’s property tax is 1% of assessed value, which is already one of the lowest in the country. The corporations that will be the most impacted, like Chevron will pay an additional $100 million a year in taxes. For a corporation that makes billions of dollars a year, $100 million is a small amount of taxes will also be available to small businesses.

The 40% of revenue set aside for education will go to a dedicated fund at the state level. The funds will be distributed with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)–which ensures that districts with higher needs, like Oakland, get more. LCFF requires school districts to involve parents in creating spending plans and ensures that districts are held accountable to spending the additional funds to benefit students.

Opposition to Prop 15 is made of special interest groups. These groups are used by out of state corporations and investors to influence California politics at the expense of Californians. The Business Roundtable, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and California Taxpayer Association are the main special interest groups opposing SCF.

Opposition groups rely on scare tactics and false arguments to discount the positive impact of SCF. They say that SCF will hurt small businesses and drive investors out of California. These are scare tactics unsupported by data.

In 1978, California passed legislation significantly lowering revenue from property taxes by reassessing properties only at the time of sale and otherwise limiting increases in the assessed value of property to 2% each year.

Many voted for the legislation because of its protection of homeowners without realizing the protections and loopholes available to businesses that were written in. This means that commercial property in California is being taxed significantly below market rate and corporations are not paying their fair share of property taxes.

This decrease in property taxes has had a dramatic impact on California school funding. Before Prop 13 was passed, California was the 7th highest in per pupil spending. Today, it is 39th in per pupil spending. This harms California’s students; California classrooms are among the most over crowded in the nation. We have the worst ratio of counselors, librarians and nurses per student.

Prop 15 in Oakland

The initiative requires that distribution and spending of funds are publically reported. With this transparency, the public can hold the district accountable for spending.

We are waiting for a University of Southern California report on the projected numbers for Oakland and OUSD specifically. In the interim, current projections are that Schools and Communities First would result in an additional $12 billion dollars in revenue per year for California schools and community services. This translates to an estimated $652 million per year for Alameda County and more than $4.6 billion per year across the Bay Area.

This could mean anywhere between a very conservative $13 million to close to $50 million per year for OUSD.

Real estate investment corporations like Wedgewood make money by buying property without developing it. They drive up the cost of property in Oakland by limiting the supply. However, when these corporations buy commercial property, they will be forced to pay higher taxes on it, incentivizing them to develop the land to create new housing and commercial space. This will lower the cost of property prices by increasing supply.