Poll Shows Dropping Support for Split Roll, Largest Tax Hike in History

Backers of an initiative for the 2020 ballot to increase business property taxes have changed their measure twice since introducing it in 2017. The main result of those tweaks: 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 Legislative Analyst found 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% increase in business property taxes. This would be the largest tax increase in California history.

Even after making a third pass at trying to get it right, proponents have not abandoned Split Roll 1.0. Although twice demeaned and found wanting by its own creators, the original measure lingers in the ballot queue as a hedge against the proponents’ inability to qualify version 3.0.

Voters will have the last word, of course, and they are showing their skepticism. A just-released survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows public support for a split roll sinking, with 47% of likely voters in support and 45% in opposition.

For the first time in a PPIC poll, support for a split roll initiative has dipped below 50%, even before facing a serious opposition campaign—and without any mention in the survey question that the initiative would alter Proposition 13, a landmark law most voters typically associate with popular residential tax protections.

Contact: Loren Kaye