As one of the most complicated measures on the November 2020 state ballot, Proposition 19 would make significant changes to California’s residential property tax system. The proposition would expand a property tax loophole for older, mostly wealthier homeowners, while covering the cost by narrowing another special tax rule for inherited properties – and would then require state and local governments to track how much their tax revenues change as a result, requiring new administrative infrastructure. Altogether Prop. 19 would likely result in increased state and local revenues on net – but not for all counties – while most of the newly available state dollars would be restricted to a new special fund limited to use for supporting fire response.
Voters are often asked to decide on a range of policy questions through propositions on the ballot — sometimes resulting in significant impacts on how the state raises and spends tax revenues. The Budget Center’s analysis of ballot measures helps foster a greater understanding of the implications propositions may have on the state budget, and the effects on people and communities.
Local tax revenue reflects a community’s shared effort to support vital public services that all Californians need to live in our cities and counties, such as education for students in K-12 schools and community colleges, housing, health care, public parks, and libraries. When tax breaks provide advantages to some taxpayers over others, it not only creates inequities but can also lead to revenue losses that compromise the ability of schools and local communities to provide essential services for Californians. This is the case with commercial and industrial property taxes across California, and why voters will be asked in fall 2020 to vote on Proposition 15, an amendment to the state Constitution that would change how commercial and industrial properties are taxed to provide more revenue for schools and communities.
Across California and the United States, the push for bail reform has gained momentum with increasing awareness and research showing the disproportionate impact the money bail system has on people of color and low-income households. Enter Proposition 25 that will appear on the November 3, 2020 statewide ballot and asks California voters to decide whether a 2018 state law that effectively ends money bail should take effect. If voters approve Prop. 25, judges will be able to utilize risk-based assessment tools – examining population links between rearrest or reconviction and individual factors such as age, gender, or criminal record – to determine if individuals detained for certain crimes can be released before a court appearance rather than posting money bail.
Over many years, California lawmakers and voters adopted a series of harsh, one-size-fits-all sentencing laws that prioritized punishment over rehabilitation, led to severe overcrowding in state prisons, and disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx Californians – consequences that many families still feel today. California began reconsidering its “tough on crime” approach a little over a decade ago as prison overcrowding reached crisis proportions and the state faced lawsuits filed on behalf of incarcerated adults. Ultimately, a federal court in 2009 ordered California to reduce overcrowding to no more than 137.5% of the prison system’s capacity – an order that remains in effect today.
For the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ annual conference, “Impact 2018: Building Momentum for Equity and Opportunity,” Director of Strategic Communications Steven Bliss presented on how to use digital tools to connect policymakers, advocates, community leaders, and other stakeholders with state policy analysis for the workshop “Digital Advocacy 101.”