Education Strategy Isn’t Working for Property Tax Increase Plan

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

Education is intended to be the cutting edge of the blade to alter Proposition 13 with a ballot initiative in next year’s election. However, the just released Public Policy Institute of California poll indicates that strategy may not be as sharp as anticipated by the measure’s backers.

In attempting to raise billions of dollars for schools and local governments, the ballot measure proposes to change the tax system for commercial property bringing up the taxable values to market rates and re-assessing the property every few years. Taxing commercial property means a hit on business and that appears to be a troubling prospect for many California voters.

The PPIC poll found that 13% of likely voters named jobs and the economy as the number two most important issue facing people in California today behind only homelessness at 16%.  The category of education, schools and teachers was eighth on the list at 2%. 

Overall, the PPIC poll found 47% of likely voters supported the proposed split roll system while 45% opposed. Not an impressive margin when considering that the question asked how voters felt about a ballot measure that taxed commercial property and directed the revenue for K-12 public schools. 

There wasn’t any counter arguments about economic effects of which the voters are clearly concerned, yet the proposal did not garner 50% support.

Democratic voters, who strategists believe will flock to the polls in November to vote against Donald Trump, were supposed to be a great support system for advancing the split roll. Yet, only 1% of the Democratic voters in the poll named education as the most important issue.

The poll showed that there is concern over the economy. When asked by the PPIC pollsters if the California economy was headed for good times or bad times financially in the next 12 months, 37% of likely voters answered good, while 54% of likely voters chose bad. 

Even in households with children, jobs and the economy was selected as the important issue by 29% while education scored at 2%.

Voters did not turn their backs on education funding. When asked if they would support a school bond on the same ballot for construction and modernization of public schools, likely voters said yes by 54% to 40%. 

While Republicans and Democrats had mirror opposite views on the split roll (Democrats 70% Yes, 23% No; Republicans 24% Yes, 71% No), Independents are a crucial vote on the issue at 36% Yes, 54% No.

There is also a gender gap on the proposal. Males opposed the split roll idea 41% Yes, 52% No, while Females supported the idea, 53% Yes, 39% No.

The poll gave proponents target audiences to mine along with women voters with Latinos (Yes 62%, No 30%) and younger voters 18-44 (Yes 56%, No 36%) standing in support.

Once the economic and other pro and con issues are raised in the voters minds, however, expect numbers to change. 

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