Initiative to Rework Property Tax Proposition Gathers Enough Signatures for 2020 Ballot

SACRAMENTO -- A coalition of community organizations have apparently collected enough signatures to place an initiative reworking the landmark Proposition 13.

Passed in 1978, Proposition 13 capped increases in the property tax at a time when homeowners were being forced to sell lifelong homes because of rising tax rates. Commercial properties were included.

But over the years progressive groups have said longtime businesses that have large properties have been getting a free ride at the expense of schools, cities and counties, as well as fire and police departments, that used to rely solely on the property tax.

Homeowners say proponents of the initiative now pay a larger portion of the tax burden than do certain businesses.

But business leaders say the measure that is destined for the 2020 ballot would increase taxes in a state where business taxes are among the highest in the nation.

"We are going to fight to the death to see that doesn’t happen," said Robert Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable.

But the League of Women Voters of California, a major supporter of the measure, says the $6 billion to $10 billion raised each year is badly needed and those larger businesses that have owned their own property for years have to contribute.

"So everybody is paying for our schools and for the community services we all use," said Helen Hutchinson, president of the League of Women Voters of California.

Their campaign has collected about 265,000 more signatures than required to put the measure on the 2020 ballot.