May 7, 2015
Capitol Alert
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics
By Dan Walters

A coalition of public employee unions and other liberal groups, including many churches, launched a campaign Thursday to alter Proposition 13, California’s iconic property tax limit, and raise billions of dollars by hiking taxes on commercial property.

The organization, Make It Fair, is headed by unions, including the California Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union, which would be the main source of millions of dollars to qualify the initiative for the 2016 ballot and campaign for its passage.

The proposed measure would remove Proposition 13’s limits on what the organization considers to be commercial property – industrial, retail and office complexes, mostly – while leaving them in place for owner-occupied homes, residential rental properties and agricultural land.

If enacted, the Proposition 13 revision would raise as much as $9 billion a year that advocates say are needed to adequately finance schools and improve local government services.

“California is losing billions of dollars every year thanks to problems in the law that allow some big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share,” campaign spokesman Anthony Thigpenn said in a statement as backers rallied at Sutter Middle School in Sacramento.

However, the campaign to revise Proposition 13, passed by voters in 1978, will face stiff opposition from a business-backed coalition called Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes.

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