It’s official: An initiative to end Prop. 13 as we know it will be on your ballot this November. Sacramento’s reigning Special Interests teamed up with Mark Zuckerberg and spent millions to qualify the so-called “Schools and Communities First” Proposition at the worst possible time.
Even Willie Brown called the $12.5 billion tax increase “a shortsighted act made even more myopic given the walloping we’re experiencing with COVID-19.”
The campaign to undo Prop. 13 is already awash in deception. Paid signature-gatherers claimed (1) that the measure “protects Prop. 13” when it does the opposite; (2) that small businesses are “exempt” when they’ll be hit hardest; (3) that homeowners won’t be impacted when everyone knows they’re next.
Worst of all, Attorney General Xavier Becerra carved this deception onto the ballot itself, distorting the language in a way commentators have called “shameful,” an “abuse of power,” and “taking political sides.” Becerra’s “summary” doesn’t even mention that the measure will raise taxes.
With 5.3 million Californians out of work, the initiative would cost 120,000 more private sector jobs. With small businesses fighting for their lives, it would force even more to shut down permanently. With our cost of living higher than any state, it would raise the price of groceries, fuel, clothing, and other necessities. With a housing crisis without precedent in modern America, it would erect another barrier to new homebuilding.
Nathan Ahle of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce said that “for mom and pop operating on slim margins, the measure will force rents to skyrocket and could mean the difference between declaring bankruptcy or making payroll.”
While proponents argue that it’s just a tax on business properties that will affect big companies, groups representing seniors, veterans, and minority-owned businesses all stand in strong opposition.
The NAACP published a study listing a dozen reasons why “social justice groups should be concerned about weakening Proposition 13.” Deborah Howard, Board Member of the California Senior Advocates League said the tax increase “will hurt the pocketbooks of seniors living on fixed-incomes.” AMVETS Cammander David Black said it “push more veterans into homelessness.”
Even before COVID-19, the California dream was falling apart at the seams. 53 percent of Californians were thinking of leaving a state that makes life needlessly difficult. The nation’s highest cost of living and lowest measure of opportunity combine to produce poverty, homelessness, and inequality unlike anywhere else.
The shutdown has made these problems even more urgent. Now is the time to chart a new course for California – not to tear down the one pillar of sanity that is keeping many people here.