3 out of 4 voters support Prop 13 reform when given the facts
Los Angeles – One week after the introduction of the “Property Tax Fairness Amendment” (SCA 5) – a constitutional amendment that would close commercial property tax loopholes created by Prop 13 – Anthony Thigpenn, President of California Calls announced overwhelming support for reform by young voters, voters of color, low-income voters, immigrants and new and occasional voters in throughout California.
From April 20 to June 15, nearly 650 grassroots leaders and volunteers from California Calls, a statewide alliance of 31 community organizations located in 12 urban, rural and suburban counties, contacted 101,847 voters across the state using a high capacity predictive dialing system and traditional door-to-door organizing in English, Spanish and Chinese. Seventy five percent (74,078) of voters expressed support for closing loopholes created by Prop 13 that allow some corporations and wealthy landowners to avoid paying their fair share in commercial property taxes.
The 75,000 voters who support reform join the growing movement for closing commercial property tax loopholes. On May 7, Make It Fair, a coalition of community, faith based, civil rights and labor organizations, launched its campaign to close the loopholes and bring in up to $9 billion a year in revenue for local governments.
“In 1978 when I voted for Prop 13 to protect homeowners, I had no idea there would be loopholes for corporations and rich commercial property owners,” explained Olivia Barbour, a volunteer who knocked on doors in South Los Angeles with the grassroots organization Community Coalition. “Since then I’ve seen the schools in my neighborhood lose funding for the arts and afterschool programs. Many public buildings were not maintained and some even closed. Infrastructure in LA has been left to crumble before our eyes. And, as city and county programs were cut, people lost their jobs and even their homes. It’s time we fix Prop 13 and start reinvesting in local communities.”
California Calls’ findings tell a different story than a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll which suggests that support for reforming Prop 13 is around 50% and has been dwindling over the last few months. California Calls found that when new and occasional voters are given the facts about the unintended consequences of Prop 13 loopholes – decades of disinvestment in education, public safety, parks, libraries and health services – they are more likely to support reforming the law.
“The new and occasional voters California Calls contacted are the voters who can make the difference in high stakes elections, making the unthinkable possible” said Thigpenn. “In 2012, new and occasional voters turned out in record numbers, and they will again in 2016.”
Nearly 440,000 infrequent voters identified by California Calls in the years leading up to the last Presidential election voted in the November 2012, accounting for 6% of the “Yes” vote on Prop 30. This expanded electorate created the winning margin for the initiative largely responsible for California’s current budget that has avoided the deep cuts to education and safety net programs of the recent past.
By 2016, California Calls and their allies will engage and mobilize 1 million infrequent voters to the polls, creating an expanded electorate more representative of California’s population, and more supportive of bold reforms that advance social equity and fairness.
“Even with California’s economic upswing, the voters we talked to are still feeling the deep impact of $20 billion in cuts to education and local services made over the last decade.” said Pastor Benjamin Briggs from Congregations Organizing for Prophetic Engagement (COPE), a community organization working in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. “People living here are plagued with foreclosed homes and high unemployment. Local governments are turning to their citizens – people who are barely making it – to fill the gap with increased taxes and fees while commercial property tax owners continue to pay less than their fair share. The voters we talk to are ready for change, and we plan to get them to the polls in 2016.”
California Calls is a growing alliance of 31 grassroots, community-based organizations spanning urban, rural and suburban counties across the state. We engage, educate and motivate new and infrequent voters among young people, from communities of color, and from poor and working class neighborhoods to make California’s electorate reflect our state’s diverse population. Through our bottom-up approach, we are organizing voters most impacted by budget cuts and deteriorating public services in support of systemic, progressive solutions to our state’s fiscal crisis. Working together, and including those who are often left out of policy decisions, we believe we can reclaim the California Dream of equality, opportunity and prosperity for all Californians.