We have a long way to go in this election cycle and I’m sure I can collectively state that we are all dreading the barrage of candidate commercials that are upon us. I do want to take some time and clear up a bit of confusion that voters may have with Prop 13. Approved by voters in 1973, California has carried what is called a split roll tax. When enacted, this limited “total taxes to 1% of the property’s value, any increases to a maximum of 2% per year…California voters passed the constitutional amendment by a nearly 2 to 1 margin, and solidified property tax reasonableness and predictability” as stated by the CalChamber.
This “split roll” system continues to be a benefit for all property owners and Merced County Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for it’s worth. This initiative to restructure Prop 13 has not qualified for the ballot at this time. Signatures for the November 2020 ballot must be gathered no later than mid-April 2020. This is where things start to get confusing as the title of the initiative is called California Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Initiative.
The confusion is found when a voter opens their March 2020 primary ballot as they will discover an initiative titled Prop 13, School and College Facilities Bond. This version of Prop 13 “would authorize $15 billion in bonds for school and college facilities in California, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges. According to the California Legislative Analyst, the state would make payments totaling an estimated $26 billion, including $15 billion in principal and $11 billion in interest, over 35 years from the General Fund” as detailed by BallotPedia.
Within the package for preschool and K-12 schools, $5.2 billion will go to modernization of school facilities, $2.8 billion to new construction of school facilities and the remainder will be equally split between providing school facilities to charter schools and facilities for career technical education programs. The offset of that, $6 billion, will be split three ways. California State University, University of California/Hastings College of Law and community colleges will each see $2 billion for capital outlay financing needs. It is estimated by the Legislative Analyst’s Office that the full repayment will be $26 billion over 35 years paid out of the General Fund of the state budget.
According to an article found of EdSource.org by John Fensterwald, this measure “will distribute money based on new priorities, with additional help for districts struggling to raise money. Schools with the biggest health and safety needs, schools needing to remove lead in school water and those districts with tiny tax bases will get top priority.”
Reviewing previous statewide measures, voters approved a school facilities bond in 2016 that passed by 55 percent of the vote. Proposition 51 at the time issued $7 billion for K-12 education facilities and $2 billion for colleges. Five total bond measures have been approved for school facilities between the years of 1998 to 2019.
Farm Bureau suggests a vote of “no” on each of these measures. We hope the above helped in understanding the measure you will find on your March ballot. Should the split roll initiative attract enough signatures, I will provide an update on that but please understand this is not what you will find on your March ballot.
In keeping with the election theme, Merced County Farm Bureau will be partnering with the Greater Merced Chamber in offering a Candidate Forum on Tuesday, February 25 beginning at 6pm. Our forum will focus on two supervisorial districts – 2 and 4 – with the hope of providing an opportunity for both membership bases to come together and learn about the respective candidates. More details can be found by calling our office at (209)723-3001.