Controversial tax measure will create winners and losers, exacerbate regional inequality, and raise property tax rates on rural homeowners
SACRAMENTO, CA – Unless defeated by voters in November, Proposition 15 will, for the first time in state history, force counties to send their property tax revenue to Sacramento politicians who, in turn, will redistribute tax dollars across the state. However, thanks to yet another flaw in Prop 15, more than half of California counties could end up losing money for vital services like fire protection and health care at a time when they can least afford it.
“When we began researching the measure, it became clear to many of us is that several California counties would lose tax revenues under Prop 15, which is totally unacceptable,” said Daron McDaniel, chair of the Rural County Representatives of California and Merced County Supervisor. “Even worse, based on the proponents’ own analysis, homeowners and renters who live in counties that lose money under this measure will see their property taxes increase. Prop 15 will raise costs for our communities and residents at a time when we are all suffering from the worst economic crisis in generations.”
Even the proponents’ own website acknowledges the existence of loser counties if Prop 15 passes. In fact, in their “How Your County Will Benefit” section, only 28 of the state’s 58 counties are listed, fewer than half of California’s total counties. Here are the 30 counties omitted from the proponents’ website that may lose money and whose homeowners and renters will see an increase in property taxes if Prop 15 passes:
5. Del Norte
21. San Benito
In addition, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst agreed that some counties may lose money under Prop 15. In the “Fiscal Effect” analysis of Prop 15, they write, “Not all governments would be guaranteed new money. Some in rural areas may end up losing money because of lower taxes on business equipment.”
A review of current tax data shows just how devastating this revenue loss could be for the state’s rural communities. Stanislaus and Imperial counties both stand to lose more than an estimated $2 million annually, and counties including Shasta, Butte and Kings will all lose more than $1 million if the measure captures the low end of its projected revenue. In all, the vast majority of rural counties would lose revenues, siphoning off much needed resources that should be going to hospitals and first responders grappling with COVID-19 and historic wildfires across many rural counties.
Adding insult to injury, homeowners and renters in these losing counties can also expect their property tax burden to rise according to Prop 15’s proponents. Using the proponents’ own arguments, as the business tax base required to support current local bond debt is reduced from the measure’s business personal property tax exemption, homeowners and renters will have to make up the costs through their property taxes. The result will be rural homeowners and renters paying even higher property and housing costs.
“Prop 15 creates winners and losers,” said Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton). “Rural California is already suffering and we literally cannot afford to lose money under Prop 15’s series of growing flaws. We are fighting fires, trying to ensure healthcare access in rural communities and some of our residents still don’t have safe drinking water. The last thing our residents need to worry about is higher property taxes and higher costs. Prop 15 will only make regional inequality even worse at a time when we can least afford it.”
ABOUT NO ON PROP 15 – STOP HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES AND SAVE PROP 13
No on Prop 15 – Stop Higher Property Taxes and Save Prop 13, a bipartisan coalition of homeowners, taxpayers, and businesses, has been fighting to protect Prop 13 and oppose a split-roll property tax for more than a decade. For more information, please visit www.NOonProp15.org.