Just one week after Governor Brown vetoed a version of the budget sent to him by the Legislature that was deemed “unbalanced,” he has mentioned the specter of a split roll property tax as a way to balance the budget.
Yesterday the Governor responded to a question about efforts to change Proposition 13, which provides tax protections to both residential and commercial properties by stating that the “core of Prop. 13” is important to Californians and unlikely to be changed “anytime soon” (i.e. no changes to residential). But he said, “If the taxes are not extended, I believe there will be efforts to accelerate the reassessment of commercial property, or other efforts” (i.e. reach into your businesses pocket for more state revenue).
This statement is clearly understood to mean that the failed budget talks could lead to an initiative fight that would not just be limited to Brown’s plans to raise sales taxes, vehicle license fees, and income taxes, but provide another opportunity for forces that have long sought to create a split roll to rear up once again.
The Governor said he expects labor groups to pursue changes to Prop 13 that would make it easier to raise taxes on commercial properties. Two years ago split roll initiatives were submitted to the Secretary of State, but ultimately abandoned in favor of another measure. Those proposals, however, remain in the pipeline and could quickly start moving forward again.
According to several recent studies, a split roll property tax would be devastating for our industry and harm the state’s prospects for economic recovery. We hope the Governor’s comments were just “off the cuff” and not part of a more organized effort to raise your taxes in this manner.
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