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

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Loren Kaye
Loren Kaye was appointed president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education in January 2006. He has devoted his career to developing, analyzing and implementing public policy issues in California, with a special emphasis on improving the state's business and economic climate. He also was a gubernatorial appointee to the state's Little Hoover Commission, charged with evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of state agencies and programs. Kaye served in senior policy positions for Governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, including Cabinet Secretary to the Governor and Undersecretary of the California Trade and Commerce Agency.