Proposition 13

By Phil Willon
June 3, 2015

Support has dwindled for removing commercial properties from tax limits imposed by Proposition 13, the landmark property tax initiative approved by voters in 1978, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.

In addition, California voters were almost evenly split on the idea of extending a tax increase that Gov. Jerry Brown persuaded voters to approve in 2012. That measure, Proposition 30, temporarily increased the sales tax by a quarter-cent and raised income levies on high earners.

The findings come as unions and grass-roots organizations are considering offering statewide ballot measures on both tax measures.

The so-called split-roll proposal to change Proposition 13 would require the regular reassessment of commercial properties while keeping tax protections for residences in place. Fifty percent of likely California voters said they favor the split roll, while 44% said they opposed the idea, the poll found. In January 2012, 60% of voters supported such a change.

“This would face a difficult hurdle,’’ said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute. “Most people believe that, overall, Proposition 13 is a good thing.”

Baldassare said tinkering with Proposition 13 drew greater support when the state was in dire financial straits and needed more tax revenue. Now that California’s economy is on the rebound, with state tax revenues higher than anticipated, support has dwindled.

The poll results also showed a pronounced partisan divide. Among Democrats, 59% were in support of a split roll, while 34% were opposed. Among Republicans, 36% were in support and 56% opposed. Independent voters were evenly split.

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