Split Roll Vig

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Proponents of the split roll property tax increase surfaced a third version of their measure last month, tweaking it in hope of assuaging assessors and others responsible for making sense of the behemoth.

 At the time I complained that the new version “would siphon off tens of millions of dollars to support the crushing implementation obligations on state and local governments.”  

The Legislative Analyst has since released his analysis of the initiative, and I’ll admit my mistake in asserting the costs would be so high.

 They’re even higher.

According to the Analyst, up to a billion dollars a year of the new taxes will be sent right back to state and local governments for implementation, overhead, and existing state programs. That’s a billion dollars a year that will be intercepted before they can be used to hire any new school teachers, police officers or firefighters. 

The Analyst also concluded that the split roll measure “would increase statewide property tax revenue by $7.5 billion to $12 billion annually in most years.” For commercial and industrial taxpayers, that’s about a 25 percent increase in business property taxes. At even the midpoint of this estimate, this would be the largest tax increase in California history.

I used to think it took a lot of nerve to propose a record tax increase while the state enjoys record surpluses. But what’s really bold is peeling a billion dollars off that wad for back office operations, without giving it a second thought.

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