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Opinion: How California voters can update, improve Prop. 13

California voters have an opportunity this November to correct decades-old legislation that has resulted in deteriorated public institutions and services throughout our state. It’s time to challenge the divisive and widespread anti-tax sentiment promulgated by powerful interest groups bankrolled by wealthy donors.

The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act is a proposed constitutional amendment that would update and improve Proposition 13, the 1978 tax law that fundamentally crippled local governments.

A contributing factor to Prop. 13’s passage was the sentiment that older Californians should not be priced out of their homes through high property taxes. However, the proposition’s underreported giveaways to big business and corporations have exacerbated inequity and inefficiency in the state’s tax structure.

The new law would keep tax rates the same for individual homeowners, but would close the business loophole. It will periodically reassess commercial and industrial properties to full market value, while safeguarding homeowners, renters and agricultural land.

Currently, just a fraction of the wealthiest landowners are benefiting from the loophole. In fact, a recent study at USC calculated that 77 percent of the new revenues will come from just 8 percent of the properties, all valued over $5 million.

Having greater and more stable revenue sources will generate innumerable benefits for our state by funding critical services and infrastructure projects, while also improving California’s development climate.

The catastrophic effects of Prop. 13 have played out in a particularly shameful way for California’s public education system, which has plummeted from No. 1 — the pride of the nation — to close to the bottom.

Read the full opinion piece on the Mercury News.

Download a printable PDF version of this opinion piece.