Special Interests Qualify California’s Largest Property Tax Increase Amid Unprecedented Economic Challenges

SACRAMENTO, CA – Backers of the $12.5 billion-a-year property tax hike officially qualified their state proposition today for the November 3, 2020, ballot. Unless defeated by voters, the property tax increase will be the largest in California history. The special interests backing the state proposition pursued it despite a declining economy with more than three million Californians already out of work and most businesses closed. A bipartisan coalition of civil rights, social justice, business and community leaders is lining up to oppose the tax hike, citing concerns about a rising cost of living for families and an increased burden on small businesses already fighting to stay afloat.

“We need to get Californians back on their feet, not raise the cost of living even higher. The public employee unions behind the largest property tax increase in state history are willing to spend and do whatever it takes, even if it raises the cost of living for families. Everything from groceries, fuel, clothing, day care and health care will cost more if this massive tax hike is approved,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable.

“November’s property tax hike will hurt families and small businesses already struggling to make ends meet,” said Reverend Jonathan Moseley of Cedar Grove Baptist Church and president of the National Action Network LAX. “Our community cannot afford anything that raises the cost of living even higher, especially in light of the current COVID-19 crisis and an unpredictable economic recovery.”

In addition to raising the cost of living, the property tax hike includes critical flaws that will hurt all Californians. For example, the state proposition will hurt farmers with skyrocketing property taxes on the improvements needed to bring food from farm to fork – like barns, dairies, processing plants and even mature fruit trees – translating to higher costs for groceries for families.

“Under the November tax hike measure, California farmers could face higher property taxes -and families would face higher prices for food as the increase in taxes moves through processing, distribution and neighborhood grocery stores. Ultimately, the measure could lead to fewer California- grown food choices and higher costs for families,” added Jamie Johansson, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Another flaw is the measure’s lack of protection for small businesses, who will see soaring rents ironically at a time when the federal and state government is trying to provide small businesses with rent relief to keep their doors open.

“Families and small businesses are looking at an uncertain economic future as the world’s fifth-largest economy skidded to a halt and must now re-start,” said Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Orange County). “With all the insecurity that exists right now, we definitely don’t need to further complicate the situation by adding the state’s largest property tax increase ever to the equation.”