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Defeat of Prop. 15 denies schools more revenue

Original post made on Nov 12, 2020

Voters have rejected Proposition 15, a large tax increase on commercial properties, depriving schools of what could have been a significant source of revenue. Backers conceded defeat on Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, November 12, 2020, 1:56 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Nov 12, 2020 at 2:09 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

The reason Prop 13 exists is because CA is unable to control taxation and spending. The schools need to tighten their budgets and live within their means just like everybody else does.

Posted by Raymond
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 12, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Raymond is a registered user.

Single family homes sold in Mountain View over the past three years number about 1000, likely increasing the property taxes by ten million dollars. Another 1350 condos etc changed hands in the same time period: more tax dollars. Did we really need higher taxes on Safeway, Costco, Valero, and every other local business to fund our local schools? We'd pay for it, you know.

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 12, 2020 at 2:42 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

Thank goodness Prop 15 failed. The schools would be getting a LOT less money if all the small businesses in the state were driven out by oppressive tax increases. Not to mention all the people whose jobs would be lost in the process.

This would be an excellent time for schools to begin to justify the HUGE increases we have seen in the number of administration employees over the years. In the time that it has taken to double the number of students and teachers we have in the state, we have had a SEVEN-FOLD increase in administrative personnel. Why on earth do we need so many administrators?

How do we justify such a huge increase in "overhead" when we are in the computer age? Shouldn't electronic records require fewer people rather than more? What are all those people doing and why are paying them huge administrator salaries to do them? When do the people using the service and paying the bills get some transparency about where nearly $100 BILLION goes in this state every single year?

This tax increase was being sold to the people as "For the Children" which is the same tired old line that is used every time politicians want to reach into our pockets. Well, I want to SAVE some money so I can afford to pay for things that benefit my child that I have more choice about. As it is, I pay a staggering amount of tax ever year, yet I also have to spend more and more to ensure the gaps I see in my child's education are covered. If this was "For the Children" then why was 60% of the increase to go to the general fund? Whose children benefit from that?

Until the state treats our money like it matters to the people they are taking it from, I am not inclined to give them any more. I am not an ATM for them to raid every time they dream up another pet program. They need to do the job they are supposed to do much better than they are before this taxpayer will willingly hand over any more.

Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 12, 2020 at 3:13 pm

Otto Maddox is a registered user.

Sorry. This would not have helped the schools. Remember all those big promises we were given when asked to vote in favor of the lottery? "Schools win!"

They still say that in their advertising. What a load of nonsense.

Posted by po' 'lil Disney
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 12, 2020 at 3:31 pm

po' 'lil Disney is a registered user.

Sure thing folks.

Disneyland and other huge property owners are paying *far* below market taxes.

We make it up for Disney, bigly. Sure feels good to help out po' 'lil Disney Corp and their seventy BILLION dollar per year revenues.

Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2020 at 3:16 am

Jennifer Bestor is a registered user.

Last year, Proposition 15 moved almost nine hundred million dollars AWAY from local education. The legislature, not voters, directed $890,796,342 of education-allocated property tax away from schools and community colleges in five Bay Area counties. As a strategy to generate votes for Proposition 15, it worked brilliantly. Otherwise, it was despicable.

Starving the poorest school districts in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties creates a spectacular local contrast between privileged communities and those of color. And it leads homeowners to assume that someone else must be massively cheating, given their own sky-high property tax bills. Unsurprisingly, those counties voted 56%, 59% and 71% in favor of the proposition.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

The county with the largest redirection — San Francisco — saw $292,373,902 of education-allocated property tax legislatively sidearmed to the county and city government, per the CDE’s 2019-20 Apportionment Web Exhibits. This represents almost $3000 per SFUSD student, and another $1500 per community college student. San Franciscans cast 71% of their ballots in favor of the proposition, the highest proportion in the state. Residents voted to raise $800 million in new local taxes, of which just $51 million would have flowed to San Francisco Unified, its charters, and SF community colleges. The $292 million more is handed off to a county/city government that already receives over twice the state average per resident in property taxes — $2,300 vs 1,000. Good for local governments, yes. Good for votes, yes. Good for disadvantaged local kids, no.

Would this require an initiative to fix? No. Just 200 words in the Ed Code and a 50%+1 vote in the legislature.

Then there's San Mateo County. Sidearming $268,450,022 of existing education-allocated property tax away from East Palo Alto, Daly City, Pacifica and other state-funded districts — generated 59% in favor of increasing local taxes. Of the “$12 billion for schools and blah blah," another $800 million would have been generated in San Mateo — and just $42 million would have gone to local education. Handing off hundreds of millions of existing revenue by legislative fiat works to generate votes! Revenue & Tax Code Sec. 97.2(d)4(B)i(III)) declares anything above the flat statewide school funding formula ‘excess’ to local education needs. Ravenswood, Jefferson Elementary, and Pacifica, like SFUSD, are crushed by super high regional costs. The same super-high regional costs drive super-high regional property tax receipts. San Mateo city, county and special district governments already get 40% more than the state average — $1400 per resident total — then wolf down an additional $270 million allocated to augment the revenue allocated to the least wealthy schools.

But wait! There's more.

Santa Clara? $236,121,368 is allocated to schools but doesn’t get there — producing a 55.5% yes vote. Santa Clara city/county/special district governments were already getting $1,200 per resident — 20% more than the statewide average.

These numbers come from the California Department of Education website at Web Link . Drill down on the 2019-20 P-2 for the SELPAs in these counties (and Napa). Select the “Local Revenue” exhibit. Look at the bottom line. (You’ll have to do a bit of math for Santa Clara, as it has six — or check the others and trust me on this one.) “Unused Excess ERAF” C-1 is education-allocated property tax that is redirected to Santa Clara’s county, city and other local governments.

A simple regional cost supplement in the Local Control Funding Formula would not cost the general fund a red cent for the four hardest hit counties. The “more equitable, more rational” school finance system that was first proposed in 2008 — which became the Local Control Funding Formula — included regional costs and special education with its allowance for disadvantage. Who proposed it? Michael Kirst (President, California Board of Education, 1975 - 1982, 2011 - 2019), Alan Bersin (California Secretary of Education, 2005 - 2006; State Board of Education, 2006 - 2009; Superintendent of Schools, San Diego, 1998 - 2005), and Goodwin Lieu (California State Supreme Court, 2011-current; Associate Dean & Professor, UC Berkeley School of Law, 2003-2011; special assistant to the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, 1999-2000.) This isn’t a bright idea of mine. It’s simple economic equity.

Squeezing “votes for education by punishing the poorest communities in the wealthiest counties — for propositions that funnel 60%+ of their proceeds to other governments — is not the will of the voters. Its an act of our legislators — and, by extension, the local news media, academics and educational community that tacitly supports this.

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 13, 2020 at 9:47 am

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

@ po "lil Disney

Please don't try to make this about the "huge property owners" because we both know that a $3 million exemption covers barely enough property to place half a house in this area. This is, and always has been, an attack on small businesses and a way to erode the protections that Prop 13 give to ALL property owners by allowing them to have a predictable formula for taxes that is based on their purchase price rather than radical market fluctuations. Even people buying today benefit from that.

For your information, Disney paid the state of California $55 MILLION in 2019. They will pay even more this year, despite the fact that they are generating next to nothing at the park that our state is taxing. Is your plan to raise their taxes enough so they leave the state, taking their thousands of jobs with them? I'm sure they could build a bunch of houses on the site and that would generate revenue, but what about the loss in quality of life here? Perhaps you should consider that in your drive to punish those who have long-standing businesses here. They contribute far more than cold, hard cash - you just have to look beyond their pockets.

Posted by po' 'lil Disney
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 13, 2020 at 11:28 am

po' 'lil Disney is a registered user.

" Is your plan to raise (Disneyland's) taxes enough so they leave the state"

Huh? Leave? Pack up the whole resort that has, among it's parts - a single garage that will generate $35-50 million in revenue PER YEAR (and is leased from the City of Anaheim for a single *dollar* per year,) and just teleport it all to Omaha?

Truly a MAGIC kingdom, according to your magical thinking.

Disney's 55 mill a year is so undervalued as to be a prime example of corporate welfare. As I recall, it includes their Burbank studios, last assessed almost 50 years ago.

Bigger picture: some of Santa Clara's biggest landowners wish to personally thank you:

* Stanford University, $19.7 billion
* Google, $7.5 billion.
* The Irvine Company, $5.9 billion.
* Jay Paul Co., $3.5 billion.
* Cisco Systems, $3.4 billion.
* Essex Property Trust, $3.1 billion.
* Intel Corporation, $2.5 billion.
* The Sobrato Organization, $2.5 billion.
* Prometheus Real Estate, $2.0 billion.

They love that you bought into the whole 'protect small business canard.'

They love you to the tune of MILLIONS of dollars a year.

Posted by Not another shill for business
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Not another shill for business is a registered user.

I’m with you @po’ ‘lil Disney. Really too bad we can’t end the corporate welfare. It’s hard when we have business interests monitoring these group chats and scaring people that “businesses will leave the state!” “The sky is falling!”

Homes changing ownership and homeowners generally can generate enough in taxes to replace the taxes that Disney and Chevron should be paying? Come on! Disney, Chevron, Google, and others are going to leave the state because they are required to pay their fair share in taxes? Never! And, if they ever did, Californians would just re-make a new economy. This is California, the best state in the nation!

As voters in a democracy with free and fair elections, I guess we will have the government and tax structure we deserve.

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 13, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

What outrageous assumptions. Equating common sense, business acumen and the ability to follow a set of actions to their logical conclusion doesn't make me part of some business conspiracy. It just means I am able to think beyond the baser efforts of those who think all business people are evil robber barons.

First of all, I am a California native as were my parents. My interest in business stems from my understanding that, in order to prosper, a state needs to HAVE some businesses. They provide far more than just the tax dollars from their property holdings. Their employees are taxed on their earnings, as well as their places of residence. That doesn't even touch on the sales taxes and other revenue they generate by their very presence.

Second, if your goal was to end "corporate welfare" then you would decry the fact that the exemption in Prop 15 was only $3 million. There precious few small businesses who, if they own ANY property at all, especially here, that don't have a value of at least that, should their building be counted as part of their value. What do you expect to happen to the little auto shop down the street with the building that is on property valued at $3 million, but only makes revenue enough to pay the owner and his 3 employees about $70,000/year each? How does that business owner stay afloat? Fire an employee? Work alone so that the rest can pay the property tax?

As is so typical of the "tax the rich" crowd, you fail to understand that business owners aren't your personal cash cows, to be looted then abused at your pleasure. They are citizens just like you are and are entitled to earn a living. You, on the other hand, are NOT entitled to decree that they conduct themselves according to your whims, nor that they operate as nonprofits in order to provide cash for the government to distribute beyond the wishes of the citizens.

Tesla is leaving the state because of the repressive business environment here. Others have gone before and more will follow. It would be a good thing if people would start to think beyond the immediate benefit they get from their actions to the logical fallout from those actions.

I am able to understand that, if a state government makes business unprofitable, they will move. If you think a company like Disney can't do just that, might I direct you to fact that they have a perfectly fine park in Florida and could build another easily in another state that will be happy to have the jobs and revenue.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 14, 2020 at 4:41 am

Bill is a registered user.

The historical fact that all progressive governments tax until economic collapse happens never changes. California has a huge pension crisis and spends far beyond any real budget. If our politicians managed their personal finances like the public trust then they would throw birthday parties at the French Laundry (800 per person) and not care because new taxes for schools is really for general funds!

Posted by po' 'lil Disney
a resident of Shoreline West
on Nov 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

po' 'lil Disney is a registered user.

"What outrageous assumptions."

Yes, and I ask you: What outrageous assumptions?

Your rant starts with a nonsensical sentence and continues with your family history (3 Peninsula-based generations here, thank you) and ends with Musk's Trumpian blowhard empty threat.

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 14, 2020 at 11:18 am

Common sense is a registered user.

What "po' 'lil Disney" seems not to grasp is that people voted down Prop 15 EVEN THOUGH "Disneyland and other huge property owners are paying far below market taxes."

They are sick of the California legislative political machine's insatiably seeking ever more tax money for their own, often self-serving, purposes. Such as the absurd lavish (but "unfunded") pension benefits abruptly gifted to state employees a few years ago, in return for those public employees' unions helping elect the same legislators. Versions of this have gone on for a long time; the spending excesses of the 1970s were a major factor in the original Prop 13's passage. As "po's" older relatives here could explain to "po'", if they were paying attention then (and not on the receiving end of the tax gravy train).

Posted by Santa Rita Mom
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 14, 2020 at 9:05 pm

Santa Rita Mom is a registered user.

@"po 'lil"

Your outrageous assumption is that I am somehow working for business interests, monitoring this site and "shilling" for them. In fact, as I explained, none of that is true. You were casting aspersions that are not true and I explained that they are not.

I'm sorry that listening to a regular citizen that holds a different opinion than you causes you such distress. Maybe you can get over that.

Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2020 at 12:11 am

Common sense is a registered user.

People invested emotionally in ideological fictions don't like them questioned, so when contrary evidence or logic appears, they resort to fantasy ("business interests monitoring these group chats and scaring people"), trying to explain away unwelcome reality. The recourse to conspiracy theorizing just shows the desperation of their positions.

Meanwhile the truth will come out; we regular local residents who think hard about these matters will keep telling it. In the debates about Prop. 15, it was small business owners who warned about business failures. It is out-of-control state spending that alienates voters and brings cries of "Enough!" Rhetoric about "Disneyland" and scheming corporations taking advantage are the straw-man arguments here, the attempts to deflect from the real issues.

Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2020 at 5:03 am

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.

Common Sense,

The logic that by "starving" government will make it more efficient has proven to be a failure.

When the Reagan Administration started cutting taxes both in Ca and the U.S. is when we saw the beginning of the collapse of public education. Public education was functional up to the 1980s. But the politically powerful hated the "uppity" students for protesting how mismanaged the government was. So the government defunded public education so that the people could be "controlled" via inadequate education.

It is a guilt on all political parties because both the Dems and the Reps were so dependent on their "donors" that they couldn't make any improvements without hurting their "donors"

So cam the "Starve the beast" mentality, with the false promises of "No Child Left Behind" laws that gave the false impression that the schools would improve. Boy did that ever fail miserably. "NCLB" simply became a means to "test" schools to prove they can't educate because they don't get the adequate funding. It became the justification of the "privatization" of "public" education via CHARTER schools.

And just like the privatization of housing, it doesn't work.

All we get are slogans and "bumper stickers", no actual work is done nor funded.

Posted by Truth Matters
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 16, 2020 at 8:17 pm

Truth Matters is a registered user.

Most people are misled by the left propaganda. The truth is:

"On average, property-tax revenue has increased by more than 7% a year since 1978, and overall revenue has expanded 15-fold since then."

15 FOLD! Did population or student population grow by 15 fold since 1978? No!

Did inflation grow on average 7% since 1978? No!

Prop 13 is not the reason for our education problems. It's the way how government has wasted money.

Web Link

Posted by Truth Matters
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 16, 2020 at 8:48 pm

Truth Matters is a registered user.

The truth is,

Compared to 1980, California population has grown only by 80%.

Since 1980, average inflation is 2.92%.

Yet California property tax revenue has grown by 1500%, on average of 7% per year. Why there is no sufficient money for education? Where did the money go?

No one has asked that question. The only question they ask is how much MORE TAX they can get by bullying and misleading Californians.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 18, 2020 at 11:48 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

I do not think my NO vote on Proposition 15 was based on the Core of the Concept. It was based on the details of the implementation (BTW - The Santa Clara County tax assessor, Mr. Stone, also opposed this initiative measure)

For every single commercial property that Google or Linked In or 'whatever' developer or company buys, the AV (Assessed Valuation) immediately goes up to the sale price. There are Billions of dollars of AV that are added in this county for commercial (new, old, redeveloped) property every year. In one year - MVWSD and MVLA high school district saw almost a Billion Dollar increase in Shoreline AV just because of Google!

The Core of the Concept is to reassess Commercial property that has not changed hands in many decades. Make the measure simple , make the reassessment say "every decade after a sale", and make it easy for people like me to vote YES!

Posted by Bill
a resident of Rex Manor
on Nov 18, 2020 at 11:57 am

Bill is a registered user.

If the money was clearly earmarked for schools and better teachers/facilities and only for schools it would be a different story. But faith in California government to do the right thing is lost when CA lawmakers go to Hawaii during COVID (Web Link).

Posted by Steven Goldstein
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 18, 2020 at 11:58 am

Steven Goldstein is a registered user.


I found it amazing that "Tax Assessors" lobbied against Prop 15.


Because they would have had A LOT MORE work to do. They are used to just getting a letter from a sale of property and assessing the taxes based on it.

The amount of "property reassessment" would have kept them "too busy". They didn't like that idea.

And of course the property value correction that will eventually occur due to COVID and AB5 is still in the works.

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