The COVID-19 crisis has put a spotlight on how over 40 years of under-funding of public services have hurt communities across California. Despite the state, counties, cities, and school boards allocating emergency funding to meet the immediate needs of our communities, the crisis has put a strain on public services already struggling from big corporations not paying their fair share in taxes.
Proposition 15: The Schools & Communities First Funding Act will close the corporate tax loopholes, and reclaim $10-12 billion a year—funding that will build stronger communities and go toward hospitals, schools, first responders, and all the vital services we’re relying on to get us through this crisis – and beyond.
Corporate Property Tax Loopholes
A $10-12 billion a year loss for our schools and communities.
A $10-12 billion a year tax break for big corporations.
In 1978, a property tax ballot measure was passed to cap property taxes, so that increases on property assessments was limited to 2% each year, and property taxes were limited to 1% of the assessed value, until a home was sold.
This measure—known as Prop 13—helped homeowners keep home ownership affordable. Under Proposition 15, nothing changes here. Unlike commercial property, houses are sold frequently, which means new homeowners pay a lot more in property taxes than big corporations.
But, this measure also opened loopholes for big corporations to exploit and avoid paying their fair share in taxes. Unlike homeowners, big corporations own a lot of land and rarely, if never, sell it. This allows them to keep money that should be going toward funding our schools and communities as profit.
The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the worst effects of the tax loopholes
During these difficult times, the tax loopholes that have led to chronic under-funding of public services are having a devastating effect on front line workers, students, and working families.
Not enough personal protective equipment for front-line workers.
Inequitable access to internet and laptops for students.
Not enough hospital beds and ventilators, and inequitable health care access.
Proposition 15 will…
Help reclaim $10-12 billion annually for schools and local communities. Get involved.
How Public Education Funding Works in California
Tax Dollars Fund Education
The State of California gets revenue for funding education from different sources, with most of it coming from state funds (e.g. sales tax, income tax, Prop 98, etc.). As you can see, commercial property taxes are an unusually small portion of the overall funding. This is because of the Prop 13 loopholes, and is why California is 47th in the country in per-pupil spending.
Funds Are Distributed By the State
The California State Legislature and Governor determine what portion of the State Budget goes to education. From there, county offices of education throughout the state distribute funds to local school districts.
Schools Boards Decide How Funds Are Used Locally
At local school districts, budgets are set by the school board. The board decides how much money goes toward student services (e.g. food, transportation, equipment, supplies, staffing) and all the things needed to support student learning. Other expenditures, like employee wages and health care benefits, are contractually negotiated with employee unions.
Union Contracts Ensure Money is Used for Good Jobs & Improving Student Services
Wages, health care benefits, staffing levels and other working conditions are contractually negotiated between employee unions, like SEIU Local 99, and the employer. As a 30,000-member-strong union, we have the power to negotiate contracts that secure wage increases and improvements to the student services we provide. We also have an influential voice in local and state policymaking around education funding, and who gets elected to office. Quite simply: solidarity with your co-workers and taking part in contract bargaining and election campaigns is how we get our piece of the pie.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Proposition 15
Paid for by Service Employees International Union Local 99