Many Initiatives Still Too Close to Call in California
GOP Sees Slight Edge in Central Valley House Race
House Seat in GOP Stronghold in Danger of Flipping Back to Red
‘Purple’ House Seat in Southern California Still Too Close to Call
Democrat, GOP Incumbent in Dead Heat for Southern California House Seat
A record 22 million Californians registered to vote ahead of the November general election. While the allure of choosing the next occupant of the White House no doubt spurred many of them to the ballot box, they also had a list of initiatives to decide ranging from whether the state should go to a split-roll property tax scheme to ending the money bail system.
The bid to end cash bail failed, but here’s a look at how some of the other propositions are faring — even as the vote count continues:
Ignoring pleas for budget relief from California’s cash-strapped cities and Governor Gavin Newsom, voters are on the verge of rejecting a bid to amend the state’s landmark tax code and put the squeeze on commercial landlords.
With over 75% of the estimated total vote counted, 52% have voted no on Proposition 15 — the so-called “split-roll” bid. The proponents’ dreams of raising up to $11.5 billion in new tax revenues for schools and cities is on the ropes, as the measure faces a 426,000 vote-deficit as of Friday.
If the result holds, it would be further proof of the popularity and resiliency of a voter-approved tax scheme that is credited with preventing runaway tax bills for property owners in the Golden State for decades.
With the state facing a record $54 billion Covid-induced deficit, proponents have been trying to convince voters they could unearth a giant new revenue stream by raising taxes on commercial properties valued above $3 million. The supporters amassed a deep and influential bench featuring Newsom, former Vice President Joe Biden, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and many of the state’s largest labor unions.
Leading the fight against the tax reform are a collection of business and agricultural groups, as well as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — named after the author of the original property tax scheme passed by voters in 1978. The opposition casts Proposition 15 as the “largest property tax increase in California history” and claimed it would send commercial rents and the cost of consumer goods skyrocketing.
In the run up to the election, the sides combined to raise a staggering $139 million on Proposition 15.
With millions of ballots left to be counted, support for the measure is strong along the coast but fades rapidly inland.
California would crack down on longstanding tax breaks for inherited homes but allow older residents the ability to take their cushy property tax rates with them when they move under a closely contested ballot measure.
In a race too close to call as of Friday morning, Proposition 19 was leading by a 51-49% margin.
Backed by Newsom along with realtor and firefighter groups, Proposition 19 is meant to give seniors wishing to move within the state more flexibility. If passed, homeowners over the age of 55 — as well as those with certain disabilities and wildfire victims — could keep their property tax bill with them if they sell and move to a more expensive place.
Supporters say the change could spur more seniors to downsize or move into retirement centers and carries the bonus of increasing housing supply.
“Prop 19 will open up tens of thousands of homes that haven’t been on the market for decades, creating opportunities for new buyers and helping to stabilize housing costs so more Californians can afford home ownership,” the supporters claim on their website.
The proposal, placed on the ballot by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, also purports to raise new revenue for local governments and fire departments, as it would increase the tax hit on in-family property transfers.
Led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the opponents argue the change would punish those simply looking to pass on family homes to their children or grandchildren. They note a similar proposal was nixed by voters in 2018.