California Educator

April / May 2019

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Page 44 of 73

A R E C A L I F O R N I A C O R P O R A T I O N S shirking their fair share in property taxes? A CTA-backed initiative that has qualified for the November 2020 ballot will allow voters to weigh in, and potentially close a loophole that has kept corporate property taxes artificially low and starved public schools and other vital services of billions of dollars for decades. e ballot measure, named the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act (CSLCFA), changes 1978's Proposi- tion 13, which capped property tax rates at 1 percent of their 1976 value and limited inflation increases to 1 percent annually. ose low rates are locked in until a property changes owner- ship (or undergoes reconstruction), when it can be reassessed at current market value. e passage of Prop. 13 devastated school funding, propelling California's rapid decline from near the top to near the bottom nationally in per-pupil funding. e CSLCFA, also known as the Schools and Communities First initiative, will be the first measure to modify Prop. 13 (often called the "third rail of California politics") put before voters in the four decades since the problematic initiative was passed. Crafters of the measure have taken care to guarantee existing protections for homeowners, and have carved out exemptions for agricultural property. It also helps out smaller businesses by exempting them from reassessment until they are sold, and eliminating current taxes on fixtures and equipment. If passed, the measure would provide an estimated $11 billion a year for K-12 schools, community colleges and local services such as health clinics, trauma care and emergency rooms, parks, libraries, and public safety. "We're talking about billions of dollars lining the pockets of corporations that should be going to help California students," says CTA President Eric C. Heins. "is initiative is fair and long overdue." and Our Communities Voters will have opportunity to address flawed Prop. 13 and help schools By Frank Wells Tax Fairness Courtesy 43 A P R I L / M AY 2 019 Advocacy

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