In summary

Prop. 15 is an important step in rebuilding California’s economy, generating up to $12 billion a year for our schools and local governments.

By Betty T. Yee, Special to CalMatters

Betty T. Yee is California State Controller, Betty@bettyyee.com.

I endorse Proposition 15 because it is critical to California’s long-term economic recovery strategy.  As someone who grew up in a small business household and has served on the Board of Equalization and now as State Controller, I know the impacts and implementation of this measure matter.

Our state, local governments and schools are reeling from declines in tax revenue, with no assurance of sustained federal financial relief to aid our recovery.  Small businesses that are the backbone of local communities and economies have been subjected to reopenings in fits and starts. Minority owners have been hit the hardest as they continue to face the traditional barriers that existed prior to the pandemic. 

Widening inequality, persistent poverty and unaffordable housing have held back our state, even in prosperous times.  During this COVID-19 economic crisis, we need bold reform that will begin to stabilize our economy while also addressing these long-term challenges.  

Prop. 15 is an important step forward in rebuilding our economy for the future, generating up to $12 billion per year for our nation’s most overcrowded physical and virtual classrooms, and our severely under-resourced local governments in handling the COVID-19 crisis.  We need to invest in our schools, community colleges, local infrastructure, affordable housing and vital local services to rebuild our economy stronger than before the pandemic.  

Let’s start with small business.  Prop. 15 provides a substantial tax cut to incentivize small business investment.  Studies show that the most expensive 10% of properties account for 92% of Prop. 15’s added revenue.  Quite simply, small businesses will get much needed relief, and small business owners can count on local governments being able to provide vital services such as regular street cleaning and maintenance, reliable transportation, and improved fire and emergency response times.

Prop. 15’s benefits can serve as an anchor for a statewide small business recovery strategy.  We need to expand the capacity of Community Development Financial institutions and press for federal small business assistance by, among other things, increasing the federal Community Development Financial institutions Fund and putting teeth into the Community Reinvestment Act, to increase incentives for investing in disadvantaged communities.  

California’s powerful corporate leaders and foundations need to make financial commitments to Community Development Financial institutions and fund other small business initiatives.  Together with Prop. 15, these steps could make a huge difference for struggling small businesses.

I’ve also taken county assessors’ concerns about Prop. 15 seriously because I have seen firsthand how past reforms have placed burdens on assessors without providing the needed resources or support.  This initiative can be successfully implemented.  

First, the measure empowers the Legislature to work with assessors, the Board of Equalization, and the State Controller on implementation. Second, it provides advance funding for counties to make preparations even before revenue from the reassessments is realized. Third, it provides an implementation phase-in to allow sufficient time for assessors to build the capacity for reassessing large commercial properties.

I’ve already begun to prepare. My office is formulating plans for the workforce development needed to implement Prop. 15.  We’ll aggressively expand workforce training for appraisal and auditing professionals, including remote learning to reach workers in every region of the state.  We’ll recruit on our campuses to help on-board new graduates.  We’ll coordinate the various state and county agencies that hire appraisers and auditors to maximize our resources for training and recruitment.  We’ll need to make sure we are utilizing the latest technology for workforce training and implementation with attention focused on assisting small counties.

I know the professionals in California’s assessors’ offices can implement Prop. 15 efficiently and uniformly, ensuring big corporate properties are assessed at fair market value –  like in nearly every other state.  Along with meaningful small business assistance and the development of assessment professionals, Prop. 15 will not only stabilize California’s economy, but provide the necessary impetus and focus on small business recovery and job creation.  Let’s lift our schools and communities by supporting Prop. 15.

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CalMatters guide to propositions on the November ballot

CalMatters Election Guide 2020

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