California Forum

Another View: Attacking Prop. 13 would hurt businesses, economy

Jon Coupal
Jon Coupal

On Wednesday, Sens. Loni Hancock and Holly Mitchell introduced an attack on California’s most important taxpayer protection, Proposition 13 (“It’s time to make Prop. 13 fairer for homeowners”; Viewpoints, June 10). SCA 5, a proposed constitutional amendment, would alter California’s constitution to create a “split roll” property tax, imposing higher property taxes on non-homeowner properties, including business properties.

They claim SCA 5 would raise $9 billion – that’s billions of taxpayer dollars in a time when California is seeing a record budget surplus, is able to pay all its bills and store money in the rainy-day fund and still have a multibillion-dollar surplus.

This is no time to raise taxes. Instead, we should be focusing on how to grow our economy and create a friendly business environment, not drive even more businesses out of state. California has been rated as the worst state in which to do business by CEO Magazine for 11 years in a row.

A Pepperdine University study found that a split roll property tax could result in the loss of up to 396,345 jobs in California over the first five years and increase property taxes for businesses anywhere between $6 billion and $10 billion per year.

Both senators are working with California Calls, an organization that has long opposed Proposition 13’s taxpayer protections, with the end goal of placing an initiative on the 2016 ballot. Californians have seen split roll initiatives on the ballot twice, and voters have handily rejected them both times – Proposition 8 in 1978 and Proposition 167 in 1992. With support for changing Proposition 13 through a split roll at its lowest point since 2012, according to a PPIC poll released in June, this proposal seems likely to stall as it has time and time again.

This massive tax increase is not really about forcing businesses to pay their fair share because they already do. Instead, it is simply a money grab by special interests who want to raise taxes even more than the billions of dollars in new taxes raised by Proposition 30 in 2012. This is just another excuse to generate billions in new taxes that the politicians, like Sens. Hancock and Mitchell, can spend in Sacramento with little accountability to voters.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Rex Hime is the president and CEO of the California Business Properties Association. Both are members of Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes.