The “Gathering Storm” of a Big Ballot Battle

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

If you don’t think the coming split roll measure on the November 2020 ballot intended to raise business property taxes is going to be a lollapalooza of a battle, you have not picked up the signs. To use a Churchill-like title the British Prime Minister put on the first volume of his World War II history, we are now in a period of a  “gathering storm.”

The full campaigns have not officially begun. Indeed, by reintroducing a new split roll initiative that is expected to substitute for the split roll initiative that already qualified for the ballot, proponents have not yet reached the signature gathering stage. Yet, foundations are being built for the political battles to follow. 

There is the California Teachers Association, a major supporter of the new split roll initiative, that is currently running television ads that call for smaller class sizes, more school nurses and a lot more school counselors. The ad is called “Advocacy.” 

To pay for these items and more, the split roll campaign, once in gear, will lead with educators calling for the need for more money that can be captured if commercial property is taxed at full market value.

To be fair, the CTA has frequently over the years in between political campaigns produced radio and television ads to promote its positions. In that way, it is educating the public for any solution they devise presented to voters at the ballot box.

It is a strategy that I have often commented on and praised on this site, while urging the business community to follow the CTA’s example. 

The California Business Roundtable, which has announced its intent to oppose the split roll and the burden it will cause businesses, is funding educational mailers to residents and a website that promote the value of Proposition 13 for state homeowners and businesses. 

Like the teachers’ “Advocacy” ad, there is a follow-up message in store. Cracking the taxpayer protections of Proposition 13 won’t necessarily stop with commercial property and will increase California’s cost of living for all.

Consider these early messages like the dropping of leaflets on the populace prior to the bombing campaign that will follow.

On top of that both sides are reeling in and announcing endorsements more than one year before voters will even consider the Prop 13 change proposal.

The signs are there that this will be an epic struggle. The storm clouds are gathering.

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