California Educator

May 2015

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M O R E T H A N 2 0 0 E D U C A T O R S , clergy, parents, retirees, labor union rep- resentatives and others convened in front of Sutter Middle School in early May to announce the creation of a coalition dedicated to making California's property tax structure fairer. "California is losing billions of dollars every year, thanks to problems in the law that allow some big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share," said Anthony Thigpenn, spokes- man for Make It Fair and president of California Calls. "We're building a statewide movement to reform the law, close the loopholes, and bring that revenue back to our communities to strengthen our schools, provide tax relief to small businesses, and support affordable housing, public safety and other important services." The Make It Fair coalition is proposing a critical change to the state's tax law: closing loopholes that allow commercial (not residential) properties to be taxed at nearly the same level as they were in 1975. If the loopholes are closed, California could gain an additional $9 billion a year — revenue that could be used for schools, social services, affordable housing, and a range of other needs that have been starved for funds since Proposition 13 went into effect. Don Stauffer, Washington Teachers Association, a science teacher at River City High School in West Sacramento, spoke of more than $20 billion in cuts that have slashed services for students and swelled class sizes. He said that corporations paying a fair share of property taxes would help schools gain the additional dollars they need to help all students succeed. Over the coming months, the Make It Fair coalition will embark on an aggressive grassroots and legislative outreach effort to improve public aware- ness of this issue and advocate for reform. Hundreds of organizations and individuals have already signed up to be part of the effort. A full list can be found online. "This is a crucial movement to improve our state. We're going to be reaching out to every part of this state, because this is an issue that impacts every community in the state," said Thigpenn. "Make It Fair reforms com- mercial property taxes, protects homeowners, renters and agricultural lands, improves accountability, and lets us invest in schools and communities once again." More about Make It Fair can be found at Hundreds turn out at Sacramento middle school to fight for tax fairness Story and photos by Len Feldman Fair rally v2 header Activism Advocacy 38 Don Stauffer Assessing commercial and industrial property at fair market value in order to close commercial property tax loopholes. Investing the resulting funds (up to $9 billion a year) in education and neighbor- hood services we all rely on. Protecting homeowners, renters and agricultural land from any changes. Providing tax relief for small businesses. Including strict accountability provisions to ensure new funds are spent appropriately. Make It Fair is committed to the following principles:

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