The Call of Our Faith to Pass Proposition 15

Vote Yes on 15A corporate property tax loophole has been squeezing the life from local governments and school districts across California. Proposition 15, the Schools and Communities First initiative on the November ballot, aims to change that to benefit public school kids and communities of every stripe. 

As people of faith, we are called to work for laws and policies that will bring about a more equitable and just society. Proposition 15 is a step in the right direction. It will make corporate property holders pay their share of property taxes, just like the rest of us do. 

I invite you to join me and others involved in UUSM’s Peace and Social Justice efforts to help pass Proposition 15. There are so many ways to get involved:

  • Outreach to our UUSM fellows to get out the vote
  • “Yes on 15” phone banks between now and the end of September
  • Letter-writing to infrequent voters

I started doing this work recently, and this week I’m sitting in on the UU Justice Ministry of California’s Turning the Tides organizing summit (happening now through August 29, 2020). We are learning how to better involve UUs in the work of bringing more love and justice to communities across California. Check out the schedule here

Want to help bring UU values to the November election with me (and others)? It’s easy-peasy. Sign up here if you’d like someone from UUSM to call you. Of course you can always email justice@uusm.org. Our Seven Principles call us to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person and to work for justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. Join us, won’t you? It’s actually fun! (There’s a whole #UUtheVote effort that we can tell you more about. For now, let’s talk about Prop 15.

Background

The reality is that until the late ‘70s, corporations paid their fair share of taxes. Then, as with so many other areas of society, tax code changes and lobbying increasingly tipped the scale more and more to the benefit of the very wealthiest individuals and corporations, and to the detriment of the rest of us.

Income inequality has reached a crisis point here in California: public schools, affordable housing stock, and local services (e.g., fire and safety, libraries, and parks) are all in dire straits.

While local communities and community members face these hardships, many corporations benefit from tax loopholes that drain resources from the very workers and services that have proven absolutely essential at this critical time. Proposition 15 will close corporate tax loopholes to generate $12 billion every year for critical local services and schools. 

Smaller businesses are exempt. Smaller farms are exempt. Residential property is exempt. 

Who will pay the price? Research has shown that only 10% of the biggest, most expensive commercial and industrial properties would generate 92% of the new revenue—meaning a fraction of top corporations would finally pay their fair share.

Here’s an example from San Jose Spotlight: “The Walt Disney property in Burbank spans 43 acres that was assessed in 1975. Disney pays $5 per square foot while Burbank Studios [half a mile away] pays $180. If the studios were reassessed and taxed at current market value, they would be competing on the same plane and paying $3.5 million more in taxes each year.”

Now, back to #UUtheVote. Through #UUtheVote, we will be organizing between now and election day, November 3, to build thriving communities, fight the US carceral system that threatens the principles of democratic society, and get out the vote to #DefeatHate and #VoteLove in elections.

Please join us! Sign up to UU the Vote at UUSM. 

Jacki Weber,
Past President, UUSM Board of Directors

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