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By Julian Peeples

For more than four decades, massive corporations and the super-wealthy have avoided paying their fair share in property taxes at the expense of California students and families, who have suffered from the chronic underfunding of public education and community services. But voters can reclaim $12 billion a year for our public schools, colleges and community services with Proposition 15, the Schools and Communities First initiative.

Prop. 15 closes commercial property tax loopholes benefiting a fraction of corporations and wealthy investors, without affecting homeowners or renters, to fund world-class schools and strengthen local economies so all Californians have an opportunity to thrive. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a massive economic crisis, the state of California, local governments and school districts face budget shortfalls of historic proportions, which will mean devastating cuts to essential workers, local services and schools.

“Now more than ever, these essential workers, critical local services and schools on the front lines deserve our support,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Prop. 15 does just that.”

Prop. 15 will require commercial and industrial landowners who have been taking advantage of tax protections intended for residential homeowners to pay their fair share. When billion-dollar corporations like Chevron and Disney are paying 1978 property tax rates while charging 2020 prices for gasoline or amusement park admission, it’s obvious our priorities are mixed up.

“We simply can’t afford corporate tax loopholes at the expense of essential workers, critical local services and public schools,” Boyd says.

Prop. 15 is key to California’s recovery and reinvestment strategy, and the investments generated by this initiative represent vital resources that will help California rebuild after this crisis. It protects homeowners and renters by maintaining tax protections for all residential property, while also leveling the playing field for all the businesses that already pay their fair share and providing one of the largest tax incentives in a generation to spur new investment in small businesses when they need it most.

Our schools and communities need these funds badly, which is why Prop. 15 provides strict accountability to ensure all resources go directly to our students, families and communities. It’s time to invest in California’s future.

“I’m voting Yes on Prop. 15 because our students deserve education without limitations,” says Rebeca Ara, a member of Anaheim Elementary Education Association. “We need to prepare ALL students for the future.”

Prop. 15 will reclaim billions every year for our schools, community colleges and essential local services in every county to invest in things like smaller class sizes, health care services, firefighters and fire prevention equipment, fighting homelessness, safe drinking water, and preparing for future disasters like wildfires and earthquakes. These crucial resources and vital services will help our communities when they need it most — all without adding additional bills to homeowners and farmers.

Prop. 15 completely exempts farms and agricultural land from the reassessment and makes no changes to existing laws regarding these properties. Additionally, the initiative includes new tax relief for farmers with up to $500,000 in exemptions for new equipment.

Find out how much funding your school district and county will reclaim by using CTA’s online tools at CTA’s 2020 Election digital home, where you can also find resources, shareable graphics and other useful information to help propel Prop. 15 to victory on Election Day.

“It’s going to take all of us working together to pass Prop. 15,” Boyd says. “Our students and communities are counting on us!”