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Prop 13 Reform Moves to the 2020 Ballot

This year, the TechEquity Collaborative joined a coalition of hundreds of grassroots groups across California to qualify the Schools and Local Communities Funding Act for the ballot. This reform measure would inject 6 to 10 billion dollars of funding into local communities and schools by reassessing corporate and industrial property taxes on a consistent cycle. The measure does so by reforming Proposition 13 (passed in 1978), whereby the property tax businesses pay is tied to the value of the property at purchase and their rates never rise. Meaning longstanding California businesses are paying pennies in property taxes; withholding vital funds from our local governments and school districts for services like low-income housing and homeless support services. We’re deeply committed to this necessary reform, although with a different timeframe then we originally expected.

As reported by the LA Times, the campaign steering committee, of which TechEquity is a part, has decided to no longer pursue qualification of The Schools and Communities Funding Act to reform Proposition 13 for the November 2018 ballot. Instead, we will work to qualify the reform for the 2020 November general election.

We feel this is the right move for our campaign for a number of reasons:

  1. Many Californians have never heard of Proposition 13, and consequently don’t understand it’s effect on the chronic under-funding of our schools and local services. What we also know, is that when voters come to understand the impacts of Prop 13 on our state, they overwhelmingly support reform. By moving the measure to the 2020 ballot, we have more time to educate our base about the issue before heading to the polls.
  2. Appearance on the 2020 ballot gives our coalition plenty of time to educate voters. The more educated voters are about the issue and our proposed reform, the less vulnerable they are to opposition messaging and attacks on our position. When voters are unsure about what Prop 13 is, they vote no by default.
  3. Measures are listed on the ballot in the order they qualify. Qualifying our initiative now means we’ll be at the top of the ballot in 2020 — a huge advantage when voters get overwhelmed by all the decisions they have to make.
  4. More of our supporters come out to the polls in a presidential election year. 2020 will have a larger voter turnout, meaning more young people and people of color make it out to the polls to support the reform.
  5. We’ll be ahead of the curve. Qualifying the measure for 2020 this year means we can hit the ground running in 2020 without worrying about clearing the first hurdle.

How can we use our signatures that we’ve gathered so far in advance for appearance on the 2020 ballot? John Myers explains in his recent article for the LA Times:

“The key to all of this is a little-known provision of the California Constitution that links the initiative process to the election of a governor. The number of voter signatures needed to place a measure on the ballot is a fixed percentage of the total votes cast in the most recent governor’s race. Right now, those numbers are based on how many voters showed up in 2014. That means it takes 365,880 signatures for a proposed law, 585,407 signatures for a constitutional amendment. The election four years ago had record-low turnout and the fewest number of votes cast in a race for governor since 1978. It helps to explain why so many groups were able to get an initiative on the fall ballot two years ago. All of that gets readjusted in November when voters pick a new governor. But any initiative that hits the streets for signatures before that person is elected gets to use the historically low threshold set in 2014 — even if it ends up on the 2020 ballot along with initiatives drafted in future years, and thus subject to a higher hurdle.”

So, moving to the 2020 ballot means that we not only have an advantage in getting qualified ahead of the curve, but we can do it with less signatures, and have longer to gather them.

Our campaign will continue to move forward as planned, but with a stronger coalition, and more time to educate voters. We still need support to qualify this measure by gathering voter petition signatures. If you’re interested in supporting our campaign, check out our volunteer page.

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We believe the tech industry, built on the internet — the most democratizing communications platform in human history — can and should contribute to broad-based economic growth that benefits everyone.


Prop 13 Reform Moves to the 2020 Ballot was originally published in TechEquity Collaborative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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