Growing Momentum and Urgency to Make It Fair: Close the Loophole and Invest in Local Communities

18920903_1511664572210921_3711719096679288074_oThe Trump Administration’s plan to cut $2 trillion in taxes for the wealthy and multi-national corporations, vastly increase the military budget, and slash safety net, housing assistance and even Meals on Wheels is frightening and unconscionable. These “Robin-Hood-in-Reverse” policies—along with the ongoing efforts to dismantle the ACA—will present California with a massive deficit challenge.

The “Make It Fair” campaign to reform Prop 13’s commercial property tax provisions has new urgency and is gaining momentum:

  • Recent polling reflects deep concerns about cuts to education and health care —and shows higher voter approval for Prop 13 reform compared to a 2015 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
  • New research with 2016 data by USC demonstrates a significant increase of billions of dollars over the previously-projected $9 billion, due to rising commercial real estate values.
  • California Calls’ May 2017 Civic Engagement Program, which contacted over 82,000 voters, found the highest levels of support compared to any previous voter survey. A full 84.9% expressed support for closing the corporate property tax loophole to help defend California against Trump’s budget ax.
  • Over 75% of contacted voters also stated they were ready to take action to help reform Prop 13.

With over 25 organizations on the Make It Fair steering committee—including the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, the California Teachers Association, Service Employees International Union, California Calls, PICO, Courage Campaign, Housing California, PolicyLink and California Professional Firefighters, and over 250 organizational endorsers—we are pushing hard to build enough public support and pave the path to the ballot:

  • A series of Town Halls—in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Bernardino and Bakersfield—are planned for the Fall to build public awareness and to secure the commitments of local, regional and state elected leaders.
  • Over 95,000 Californians have pledged to take action to support MAKE IT FAIR through our online petition and California Calls’ Spring Civic Engagement program
  • Media outreach has launched—with OpEds in the Fresno Beethe San Bernardino Sun and the San Diego Union Tribune —with many more in the pipeline for regional outlets.
  • Senators Nancy Skinner and Holly Mitchell have agreed to co-sponsor a Senate Constitutional Amendment, with detailed policy provisions, already approved by Legislative Counsel for a future legislative strategy.

The time is now to MAKE IT FAIR. Click here to join the campaign.

Towards a National Strategy: Building Independent State Based Power

While the spirit of resistance is strong, inspiring, and seemingly more widespread than any we have seen in recent decades, we know that resistance alone is insufficient to reverse the grave threats we face as a nation.

Our movement’s responses have largely been about registering opposition to Trump, and slowing down or mitigating his agenda. Many continue to pursue a one-dimensional view of power: the election of progressive candidates. Without a focus on sustained, day-to-day, bottom-up organizing, this approach is insufficient to match the forces now in power.

Pushing back on the attacks at the federal level is critical, but we must also push forward through offensive battles that reflect our progressive values. Where we can move from defense to offense is at the local and state level. And, key to an effective national strategy is organized, grassroots organizing for state power.

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California Calls has been a leader in the launch of a new state-based Power Caucus to explore new strategies to expand independent political power centered in states as the building blocks to a national strategy. Currently, 20 state-based efforts across 13 states, along with representatives from national networks and movement leaders, are active in the caucus.

Our goal is to develop a clear and collective understanding of what statewide governing power might look like and how it can be built, articulate an alternative vision to the Trump agenda and the dominant narrative of our time and strategize about how to influence the national landscape towards a strategic long-term state-based power building approach.


Pushing Forward: Forging Statewide Collaborations

To build sufficient power advance social and economic justice, we need a coordinated movement. A key part of our strategy is to collaborate with the ecosystem of local and state organizations working to expand the electorate.

Over the last 2 years California Calls has launched three power building projects in California:


California Calls 2017 brochure_v1.indd

This multi-year strategic collaboration is working to transform the California electorate to build towards bold transformative change by turning out one million voters to the polls. Bringing together the strongest community-based networks with significant integrated voter engagement experience, the MVP includes 47 local affiliates in 24 counties of the state and has welcomed in three new groups in 2017 – Asian American Pacific Islanders for Civic Engagement, the Orange County Table, and YVote . Together, we work to engage low-income residents, immigrants, youth and communities of color over time through one-to-one outreach and year-round education and organizing. In 2016, the MVP mounted signature gathering, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote activities, dramatically increasing voter turnout.


We Are Powerful

Recognizing the systemic, racial barriers that cause African-Americans to experience high rates of homelessness, incarceration, and unemployment—the African American Civic Engagement Project is a statewide effort to build the electoral power of African-Americans in traditional urban hubs and suburban areas. Twelve groups working in youth development, homeless and re-entry services, and women’s empowerment are now entering their second year of training and capacity building to reach and motivate Black voters. In November 2016, over 21,000 voters were contacted. In 2017, AACEP is working to re-contact these voters and encourage their involvement in local community meetings and other actions.



San Diego and Orange Counties, along with many places in the Central, Inland and Sacramento Valleys, represent a “fish hook” geographic pattern long considered a stronghold for traditional voters—older, more, and more conservative. However, these areas have experienced rapid demographic changes where younger, immigrant and Latino populations are increasing. Launched in early 2017, this project works with six community-based groups from the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities program in youth services, environmental justice, health education and farmworker empowerment. California Calls and PICO California will provide support to train and pilot integrated voter engagement programs to increase the participation of underrepresented voters. Find out more about the Building Healthy Communities Integrated Voter Engagement Project, click here.