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Video: Assessing Proposition 15

Mary Severance September 30, 2020
photo - Mail-in-Ballot

As part of our Speaker Series on California’s Future, PPIC is bringing together thought leaders to give Californians a better understanding of measures on the November ballot.

PPIC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it support, endorse, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.

Proposition 15, a high-profile measure on the November ballot, would modify the tax assessment of commercial and industrial property; it would not affect residential property taxes. The revenue generated by this change would go to public schools, community colleges, and local governments. Mark Baldassare’s conversation with David Goldberg, vice president of the California Teachers Association, and Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association, highlighted two very different takes on Prop 15’s potential impact.

For Goldberg, Prop 15 is a long-overdue measure that “closes the loopholes that are exploited by wealthy investors, and requires—for the first time in decades—large commercial and industrial properties to be assessed based on their fair market value, on a regular schedule.”

Goldberg added that the revenue raised by Prop 15 would be invested “at the county, city, and school-district level.” In short, he said, “this is a boon for everybody.”

For Michelin, Prop 15 would increase costs for small businesses and, ultimately, for all Californians. “This is the largest property tax increase in state history,” she said. “This will be passed on to consumers. It will tax small businesses. It will put even more small businesses out of work at time when we need to be investing and making sure they can remain open.”

These divergent viewpoints led to agreement on one issue: the need for voters to consider this measure carefully. “The devil’s in the details,” said Michelin, urging voters to “read the initiative and really look at the details.” Goldberg concurred. “Voters have to make a choice,” he said.

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