Proposition 15 Would Generate Up to $6 Million for MPUSD Schools
By PK Diffenbaugh, Superintendent, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
November’s election gives voters an opportunity to lift California out of the shameful ranking of 41st in the nation in per student funding. Based on projections by the University of Southern California, approving Proposition 15 would generate between $10.3 and $12.6 billion per year by requiring commercial properties to be reassessed at market value at least every three years. Locally, according to EdSource, passing Prop. 15 would translate to between $3.6 and $6.4 million per year for the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District.
The vast majority of voters have indicated their desire to improve funding for public education, but if you think that Proposition 15 is a slam dunk - think again. There is a lot of misinformation circulating around Prop. 15 and opponents have pledged to spend more than $100 million to defeat the measure.
It is important to clear up misconceptions:
- Misconception Number 1: Prop. 15 takes away residential property tax protections enjoyed by homeowners under Proposition 13. False. Prop. 15 makes no change in current protections for residential properties.
- Misconception Number 2: Proposition 15 will cause all commercial property owners to pay more taxes. Again false. Prop. 15 exempts the new rules on commercial property for business owners whose total number of properties are assessed at less than $3 million. This accounts for over 90% of commercial property owners in the state.
- Misconception Number 3: Prop. 15 will destroy small businesses. This is misleading. Prop. 15 exempts all of the personal property of small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 50 employees.
Who is most impacted by Proposition15? Large corporations that have benefited from having their property tax based on assessed value decades ago. Take for example Disney Corporation. Last year, Disneyland Resort paid only $4.6 million in property taxes because it is taxed on the 1975 assessed value of its land, plus minimal 1%-2% yearly increases. If Prop. 15 passes and Disneyland’s property is reassessed to current fair market value, Disney Corp. would pay an additional $24.2 million in property taxes--resulting in an additional $19.6 million for local schools. For a company whose profit was a record $12.6 billion in 2019, an increase in property taxes to current market value in order to support schools is not only fair, but good public policy.
Opponents of Prop. 15 are counting on defeating the measure through playing on people’s fears. Fear that Prop. 15 is a “Trojan Horse” and the next step will be overturning Prop. 13’s residential protections supported by homeowners; fear that commercial landlords will “pass on” the expense to small businesses thus driving them out of business in an already difficult economic environment; and the fear that Prop. 15 will be the “last straw” that leads to a mass migration of businesses out of California.
Though Prop. 15 won’t solve all the fiscal challenges facing public education, it will make a significant difference in educational funding for years to come. Rather than giving in to fear, voters must look toward a more hopeful future. One in which schools have adequate funding to educate future citizens; where cities can provide community services beyond the bare minimum; and where the democratic process makes decisions based on what is in the best interests of our children rather than large corporations.
Residents of the Monterey Peninsula are appalled that our state ranks in the bottom nationally and often ask what they can do to make a difference and help our local schools. With Prop. 15 we finally have a chance to make a real difference. Vote Yes on Proposition 15.