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The Outlook For Property Tax Reform In The Wake Of Prop 15's Defeat

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Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland, California. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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California voters have narrowly rejected Proposition 15, which would have forced the state’s businesses to pay more in property taxes.

It sought to undo part of Proposition 13, the historic 1978 tax-cutting measure that has kept individual and business property taxes low for decades. Big legacy firms like Disney and Intel have been among its beneficiaries.

Progressive reformers have long wanted to go after Prop 13 — Prop 15 would have dedicated the billions of dollars raised in higher business property taxes to public schools and local governments.

The closeness of the vote — currently 51.8% to 48.2% — is significant, given that Prop 13 is “the third rail of California politics,” said USC sociology professor Manuel Pastor.

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The Yes on 15 campaign says that’s a sign of strong public demand for raising corporate taxes. The initiative’s opponents counter that its defeat shows voters do not want to dismantle Prop 13.

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