California voters have rejected Proposition 15, the split-roll initiative that proposed the largest property tax increase in state history, with 51.9 percent of the voters in opposition. This marks the third time since 1978 that Californians elected to apply the same property tax rate to all types of real property, following Proposition 8 of June 1978 (on the same ballot that featured Proposition 13) and Proposition 167 of 1992.
“It’s time for proponents of property tax increases to accept that Californians know the importance of preserving Prop 13 protections and the voters don’t want higher property taxes,” CalTax President Robert Gutierrez, who co-chaired the No on 15 campaign, said. “It’s clear that when people talk about tax increases on businesses, that means higher costs for milk, bread, computers, haircuts and everything else, not to mention lost jobs. The voters did not want that, and even the biased ballot title and the supporters’ misleading ads couldn’t obscure that simple truth.”
With more than 15.9 million votes counted as of this morning, the Secretary of State’s Office reported that 7,689,551 voters supported Proposition 15 and 8,305,396 opposed – a margin of 615,845 votes. The “no” vote prevailed in 43 of the state’s 58 counties (see map, left, courtesy of the Secretary of State’s Office).
While vote-by-mail ballots will be accepted through November 20 and more than 1.1 million ballots have been received by county elections officials but not yet counted, the result is not in question.
The initiative was funded primarily by the California Teachers Association (CTA), the Service Employees International Union and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Joel Fox, a consultant who formerly served as president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, noted in a November 12 column that the proponents originally submitted signatures to qualify the split-roll measure for the 2018 ballot, but spent several million dollars to qualify a revised version after “looking at the landscape of the 2020 election – a presidential contest featuring incumbent Donald Trump that large majorities of California voters in poll after poll indicated they detested,” and determining the presidential election “would bring a mass of voters, theoretically sympathetic to a split roll.”
“The odds were all to the Yes on Proposition15’s liking,” Fox wrote. “If they were ever going to inflict changes to California’s iconic property tax law, Proposition 13, the 2020 general election was the time to do it. But Prop 15 failed because of the respect Proposition 13 still has from Californians.”
The results will be certified by the secretary of state by December 11.