There is little doubt that California taxpayers are under attack from all sides. Our elected leadership continues to burden both businesses and homeowners with an endless array of regulations and taxes. It is little wonder why there has been a significant uptick in outmigration by both businesses and individuals from California. That is why it is important to have an organization like Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) to stand firm in its commitment to return California to a place where taxpayers need not live in fear of government overreach.
Part of our commitment to defend taxpayers was evidenced by a number of legislative victories in the 2019 legislative session, notwithstanding the fact that the majority party now has a super-majority in both houses. The most significant of those victories was, of course, the defeat of Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 1 which would have inflicted a near-fatal wound to Proposition 13 by reducing the current two-thirds vote needed to approve local bonds and special taxes – including parcel taxes – to just 55 percent resulting in a potential property tax increase of hundreds of millions of dollars statewide. ACA 1 was able to muster only 44 votes, well shy of the 54-vote two-thirds supermajority required. A big thanks to all HJTA members who flooded legislative offices with calls and email.
In addition to our impressive victory over ACA1, HJTA also helped to defeat a myriad of other taxes, fees and assessments including a sales tax on business services and new taxes on handguns, soda and tires.
“Split Roll” a Disaster?
However, our latest challenge comes not from the legislature, but from special interests using the initiative power to raise taxes. Chief among these is the infamous “split roll” proposal that would strip Prop 13’s protections from business properties. Proponents – mostly public sector labor unions – call their initiative the “California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act.” Despite the benign label, the impact on California’s economy would be a disaster. Split roll would be a massive tax increase on office buildings, retail stores, shopping malls, theaters, gas stations, supermarkets, factories, warehouses, self-storage facilities, auto dealerships, car washes, restaurants, hotels and every other job-creating business in the state. Even very small businesses that lease space in a strip mall would see their operating costs jump sharply as a result of tax increases passed through from landlord to tenant.
Split roll is also a huge threat to homeowners. First, all the costs imposed on our local businesses by split roll will ultimately be paid by consumers. Second, proponents have already made it clear that taxing businesses is just the first step in the full dismantling of Proposition 13. As Benjamin Franklin said, “We either hang together or hang separately.” For that reason, HJTA is working closely with the business community to defeat split roll in November of 2020.
Vote “NO” on School Board
Another ballot measure to watch is a $15 billion statewide school bond on the March 2020 ballot. No one disputes that schools need adequate funding, but this proposal has several hidden dangers for taxpayers, including a near doubling of the local bond caps which will lead to higher property taxes.
Win in Court
HJTA continues to rack up wins in the courtroom. In addition to the recent victory invalidating legislation that sought to allow public financing of political campaigns, we continue to defend the two-thirds voter approval requirement for local special taxes. We prevailed in the Fresno Superior Court which ruled that special taxes proposed by a voter initiative are not exempt from the state constitution’s two-thirds vote requirement. There are several other similar lawsuits pending in the courts and HJTA is a leader among several law firms defending the two-thirds vote. While we lost in San Francisco (no surprise) we did win in Alameda County. Ultimately the California Supreme Court will have to resolve the issue as to the scope of Proposition 13’s two-thirds vote requirement
HJTA is constantly in the media. I appeared in an extensive piece by Fox News concerning the more than 60 lawsuits filed by Attorney General Becerra against the Trump administration, many of which have been commenced for no legitimate reason other than to grab headlines.
Need Your Support!
Again, thank you for your generous support of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and our affiliated foundation HJTF. Let me know if you ever have any questions about our current work or upcoming battles. Contact me at [email protected].
Jon Coupal is President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights. For more information, visit www.hjta.org.