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By Jodi Reid, California Alliance for Retired Americans executive dAging Action Initiative Why Seniors and People with Disabilities Should Support Proposition 15 (October 2020)  irector, and Ruth Carter, CARA Marin co-chair (pictured)

For many seniors and people with disabilities, we have watched our California schools struggle for funding and excellence for decades.  Once the pride of California, our schools have declined in per student spending to be amongst the lowest in the country, with programs and resource reductions every year. Our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids do not have access to the great educational system that we received. Schools lunches, nurses, libraries, science and math, technology programs, physical education programs have either been cut or completely eliminated, leaving our students struggling to compete in a changing environment.

At the same time, as we age and need new and additional services and resources, like nutrition support, senior centers, a robust emergency responder system, affordable housing and more, our communities are struggling to maintain even a bare bones infrastructure of supports and services.  The pandemic has only added to these challenges.

One of the reasons our local counties, cities, and special districts have struggled for the last 40+ years is due to the inequities built into Proposition 13. Many seniors voted for Prop 13 because they were afraid of losing their homes due to increasing property taxes. Yes, our home values have increased exponentially, but most of us hope to stay in our homes forever, and now live on a fixed income, unable to pay higher taxes. Prop 13 has been a literal home and life saver.

But big, multi-billion dollar corporations, who continually raise their prices to the public, have not had their properties re-assessed in over 40 years either. Every other state in the country regularly reassesses commercial and industrial properties so that these big corporations pay their fair share of property taxes. Since these larger properties never sell, they don’t get reassessed. Residential properties in California are sold on average, every 11 years, and are reassessed at the time of sale, so most of California’s residential properties are being taxed at close to the current assessed value while protecting those of us who are staying in our forever homes and never selling.

We have heard and seen the attacks on Prop 15, the Schools and Communities First Act. They are filled with lies.

  1. Your property taxes will NOT be raised. Prop 15 exempts all residential property.
  2. Large commercial properties will finally pay their fair share of property taxes.
  3. Prop 15 requires regular accountability and transparency on how the money is being spent.
  4. Small businesses with property values at $3 million or less will be exempt. A new $500 million business tax break on equipment for all businesses will be provided.

Prop 15 would bring an estimated $12 billion annually to our local communities: 40% to schools and 60% to local community programs and services. This money stays in our local communities and in our school districts – none of it goes to Sacramento!  It would do this by regularly reassessing commercial and industrial properties, while continuing to protect all residential properties, agriculture properties, and small businesses. In fact, it is estimated that only 10% of the biggest corporations in California will bring in 92% of the $12 billion dollars in annual revenue.

It is time we bring much needed revenue to our struggling schools and community services, while continuing to protect residential properties – homeowners, renters, small and large landlords, mobile home owners will all be protected with no changes to their property taxes.

Let’s make the largest corporations in California pay their fair share.  Vote YES on PROP 15.