SCHOOLS AND
COMMUNITIES FIRST

We all want the same things for ourselves, our children and families—excellent public schools, quality health care, good jobs, and safe and clean neighborhoods. We also expect everyone and every business that lives and operates in our communities to pay their fair share in taxes that fund these things.

But a corporate property tax loophole has allowed big businesses operating in California—like Chevron, McDonalds, and Disney—to avoid paying their fair share, to the tune of $11 billion dollars a year. That’s $11 billion dollars a year that isn’t being used to hire more school custodians, replace old school textbooks, or invest in neighborhood parks and public health clinics.

This loophole amounts to a massive tax break for a fraction of ultra-rich corporate landowners and investors at the expense of homeowners, renters and small businesses.

The Schools and Communities First Act will close the loophole and end 40 years of disinvestment that has starved our schools and vital community services of funding, and allow us to start investing in our future.

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FAQ

SCHOOLS AND
COMMUNITIES
FIRST

We all want the same things for ourselves, our children and families—excellent public schools, quality health care, good jobs, and safe and clean neighborhoods. We also expect everyone and every business that lives and operates in our communities to pay their fair share in taxes that fund these things.

But a corporate property tax loophole has allowed big businesses operating in California—like Chevron, McDonalds, and Disney—to avoid paying their fair share, to the tune of $11 billion dollars a year. That’s $11 billion dollars a year that isn’t being used to hire more school custodians, replace old school textbooks, or invest in neighborhood parks and public health clinics.

This loophole amounts to a massive tax break for a fraction of ultra-rich corporate landowners and investors at the expense of homeowners, renters and small businesses.

The Schools and Communities First Act will close the loophole and end 40 years of disinvestment that has starved our schools and vital community services of funding, and allow us to start investing in our future.

Learn More
Take Action
FAQ

The Schools and Communities First Act Will

A Closer Look at Proposition 13

Proposition 13 was a ballot measure passed in 1978 that reduced property taxes on homes, businesses and farms. Under Proposition 13, property taxes are calculated based on 1% of the purchase price. And increases to a property’s worth for tax purposes are limited to 2% per year. Prop 13 protected homeowners from skyrocketing property tax increases. And that’s a good thing. But it also created a giant tax break that has allowed corporate landowners to get away with not paying their fair share. So, today, corporations like McDonalds, Disneyland, and Shell Oil are paying extremely low property taxes – even though they’re making billions and can afford to pay much more. Schools and Communities First will finally close this tax loophole and restore funding for our schools and local services.

0¢
The amount Disneyland in Anaheim pays per square foot in property taxes.
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The average amount California homeowners pay per square foot on their homes.
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Disneyland’s annual income in millions.
$0
The average household in California. Yes, most homeowners pay disproportionately higher property taxes than a corporation that earns tens of millions a year.

Help reclaim $11-12 billion annually for schools and local communities. Get involved.

COLLECT SIGNATURES

Be part of the effort to qualify Schools & Communities First for the November 3, 2020 election ballot. SEIU Local 99 needs to collect at least 10,000 signatures.

JOIN THE EFFORT

VOTE YES

Vote “Yes” on November 3, 2020 for Schools & Communities First. If you’re not yet registered to vote, register now. If you think your registration status is outdated, check its status and re-register if you need to.

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TELL OTHERS

Every vote counts. Educate your friends, family, and co-workers about why we need to fix Prop 13, make big corporations pay their fair share, and how passing Schools & Communities First is the way to go.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Are you a school worker and/or a parent who can talk about the effects of under-funded schools? Do you remember a time when things were better? What’s changed? 

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Frequently Asked Questions

Schools and Communities First is a statewide initiative that we are working to qualify to be on the November 3, 2020 ballot in partnership with other organizations. In order to qualify, we need to collect 1.4 million signatures from registered California voters. If it qualifies and passes, it will reclaim $11 billion per year for California’s schools, community colleges, health clinics, and other vital local services by closing California’s loophole in corporate property taxes.

The initiative protects homeowners, renters, agricultural land, and small businesses, while reclaiming the billions of dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and big corporations that have drained our schools and communities of funding for the last 40 years.

The $11 billion per year that the measure would generate would go to schools, including increased student support staff and teachers, smaller class sizes, building improvements, and more resources for the classrooms. Funds would also go to fund services in our local communities including libraries, parks, housing, fire prevention and safety, emergency services, senior centers, and health clinics.

About half of the $11 billion will go to education and the other half will go to our local cities and counties. The education funding generated by Schools and Communities First will be placed in a special state fund and will be in addition to Prop 98 funding for K-12 schools and community colleges. The rest will go to local cities, counties, and special districts based on current property tax distribution guidelines. These local governments will use the funding for local trauma centers, fire fighters and other first responders, libraries, parks, housing and other public services.

Proposition 13 was a ballot measure passed in 1978 that froze property values to the 1975 assessed value. Property tax increases were limited to no more than 2% per year as long as the property was not sold. When sold, the property was reassessed at the sales price, and then the 2% annual limit then applied to future years.

Prop 13 provided important protections for homeowners especially seniors living on fixed incomes and Schools and Communities First will not change these protections. It fully exempts residential properties from reassessment.
Schools and Communities First will only close the corporate tax loophole created by Prop 13 that has cost California hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 40 years, and forced massive cuts to our schools and other public services.

No. Schools and Communities First does not touch homeowner property taxes and only addresses the corporate commercial property tax loophole. Schools and Communities First reaffirms and strengthens protections for residential properties, protecting homeowners and renters. Homes, apartments, mobile homes, senior centers, and even hotels that have been converted into housing for the homeless will not be affected. Residential properties zoned as commercial/industrial will not see tax increases. And homes that are used for small business, such as childcare, will not see tax increases. In fact, investing in roads, schools, parks and local services will help homeowners by increasing their property values.

This initiative is about closing a corporate tax loophole in order to restore desperately needed revenue to our schools and communities. Prop 13 will remain in place for homeowners and renters – all residential property. However, right-wing groups like the Howard Jarvis Association are scaring homeowners into believing that this commonsense reform will take away their protections to ensure ultra-rich corporations can continue to get an $11 billion tax break every year.

No. Homes that are used for small business, such as childcare, will not see any tax increases. In fact, the Schools and Communities First Act clearly exempts independent businesses with fewer than 50 employees from being reassessed.

No. Schools and Communities First will not raise taxes on homes, apartments, and other residential properties. It only affects corporate commercial property.

Schools and Communities First is not a new tax. It does not change the property tax rate for the average homeowner. It fixes the corporate tax loophole in Proposition 13 by assessing commercial property at fair market value.

Prices for groceries, gas, clothing and other items are determined by the market not by property taxes. In other words, prices are set by how much consumers are willing to pay. It’s also important to know that the majority of businesses in California will not be impacted by Schools and Communities First. Only a fraction of legacy companies that have owned their land for decades currently benefits from the corporate tax loophole. Small businesses will get tax relief and all business will benefit from investments in local communities and public safety.

The Schools and Communities First Act only targets billionaires and wealthy corporations to pay their fair share to fund our schools and public services. Average homeowners and small businesses will not be affected. This measure also provides funding for both schools and other public services such as housing and health care. And, instead of creating funding with an expiration date, this proposition will provide stable, long term funding by finally fixing the broken tax system.

The California lottery raises about $1 billion a year for K-12 schools, community colleges, CSU and UC campuses. While it’s a big amount, this accounts for only 1.5% of what our public schools need because public education has been so underfunded in CA for so many years. Additionally, because no tax-payer dollars are used to fund the lottery, money from the sale of lottery tickets is also used to run the program and pay the jackpots.

Schools and Communities First protects and helps small businesses by exempting small business from property tax reassessment. Small businesses are defined as independent, California-based businesses having 50 or fewer full time employees. It also creates an even playing field for small businesses in California by making sure legacy companies and out-of-state investors that have owned their land for decades and have been paying outdated property taxes pay their fair market value like everyone else.

No. Schools and Communities First will lead to job creation and a stronger economy. It will lead to increased investment, better land use decisions and increased funding for schools, roads, parks and other services in local communities, creating more high-paying jobs as a result.

Schools and Communities First has strict accountability measures to ensure that the state and local school districts, cities and counites report on how the money is being spent. Since this is local money, it’s up to us to hold our elected officials accountable to prioritizing our community’s needs.

Furthermore, the language in the measure ensures that money for schools will be distributed based on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). LCFF is California’s school funding formula that directs extra funding to high need students, which includes students living in poverty, English learners, and foster youth. Because of this, the entire $11 billion will be given to local communities and school districts to use for important services in our neighborhoods.

Schools and Communities First will help spur better land use decisions and more housing development. There are three key ways that Schools and Communities First will support housing and smarter economic development:

  • Smarter land use. Under the current system, it costs absent landlords virtually nothing to hold under-developed or vacant land, driving up the cost of land and housing. Reassessing commercial property regularly will free up that land. It will also end the fiscalization of land use, where cities make land-use decisions based on what is expected to generate higher tax revenue, leading to more land being used for big box retail stores and auto malls rather than housing.
  • Spur Housing Development. Schools and Communities First will free up commercial property for mixed-use development, lower land values to expand housing development, and increase revenue for affordable housing and homeless services.
  • Strengthen local communities. When neighborhood schools and other local services are improved, our communities will benefit and homeowners will see their property values increase. Regular re-assessment would incentivize absent landowners to develop their land or sell it, resulting in more land being used for housing and neighborhood services.

Massive corporations like Chevron and Shell will spend tens of millions of dollars to ensure that they get to keep their unfair tax break while our schools and communities continue to be underfunded. Opponents include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the California Business Roundtable, two right-wing organizations that consistently advocate for wealthy corporate landowners and against working families and our communities.