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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Nick and Jerry Break Down the California Ballot Propositions: We Read 'Em So You Don't Have To

Santa Barbara uber-journalist Nick Welsh emerges from the fortress of solitude, where he's been boning up on the 12 state ballot measures, to join Newsmakers TV for an in-depth conversation about the intriguing and sometimes bewildering policy choices voters face in the Nov. 3 election.

Nick's bottom line take on Props. 14-25 is reflected in the Independent's election endorsement recommendations in this week's issue, which you can find here.

In a special edition of the show, he joins the host for an in-depth if irreverent discussion of the substance, sponsors, politics and money behind each of the measures, matching the Indy's editorial position against Newsmakers' current leanings.

The conversation began with Proposition 15, the most consequential initiative on the ballot.

Sponsored by the California Teachers Association and public employee unions, it would increase taxes on owners of commercial property by changing the method by which their property tax bills have been calculated since the passage of California's iconic Proposition 13 in 1978.

The high-profile measure, which is fiercely opposed by the state Chamber of Commerce and other powerful business groups, would create what is known as a "split roll" property tax system in the state's 58 counties, by assessing commercial and industrial property via a different method than residential real estate:

  • Tax bills for homeowners, now based on the purchase price of their property, would not change if the measure passes;

  • Tax bills on business real estate worth more than $3 million would increase -- by an aggregate amount estimated variously between $6.5 and $11.5 billion a year -- because Prop. 15 would require that commercial property begin to be assessed on current market value, instead of purchase price.

At a time when state government faces a $11 billion shortfall in its just-passed budget, which was based on the ill-fated expectation that the federal government would approve another large pandemic financial assistance bill, supporters say Prop. 15 would end a large loophole in Proposition 13 and require large corporations to pay a fairer share of the cost of schools, social welfare and other state and local services; opponents argue that at a time when the state economy is still staggering from pandemic-induced shutdowns, a $12 billion tax increase would inflict huge new economic damage, rippling out through higher rents on small businesses and increased costs for consumers.

After kicking around all the consequences, intended and otherwise, Nick said the Indy's editorial board decided to recommend a "Yes" vote; Newsmakers confessed we're still ploughing through all 6,862 words of the measure in preparation for future posts on the issue (Watch This Space!) and have not yet made a final decision on how we're voting.

Click below for full analysis and deliberations about all 12 state ballot propositions from the Angry Poodle and Mr. Cranky Pants and...the podcast version is here.


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