With ballots being sent out for the upcoming election, groups are refocusing efforts to oppose Proposition 15. The measure will eliminate the voter-approved tax protections for commercial and agricultural properties that were implemented under Proposition 13. To the disappointment of several different industry sectors, the ballot initiative was recently endorsed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Supporters assert that agriculture will not be affected by the tax increases that would result from the passage of the proposition.
“That’s absolutely inaccurate, it does affect agriculture. It affects all of our agricultural processing operations. So, for our members that I represent, our cotton gins, and our almond hullers and processers, and walnut hullers and processors, and so on,” said Roger Isom, President and CEO of both the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, and the Western Agricultural Processors Association. “It also impacts farms. If you put any permanent structures like solar, your irrigation and filter stations, if you put permanent crops like trees and vines, all would be subject under this proposition.”
The No on Prop 15 campaign has been working feverishly to inform community members about what the measure would mean for local economies. Approximately 570 state and regional organizations representing a variety of different interests have joined the opposition effort. Hundreds of elected officials from throughout California have also come out against the ballot proposal and joined the campaign. The Family Farmers Against Prop 15 group, another coalition formed in opposition to the measure, is encouraging the industry to get involved and help spread awareness of how the initiative will impact agriculture. If passed, Proposition 15 would result in an $11.5 billion property tax increase on businesses.
“This is going to be economically devastating,” Isom noted. “We already pay the highest taxes in the country. We pay the highest energy rates in the country and have the highest regulatory costs in the country. Now you’re going to increase the property tax? There’s no way we can survive this, it’s outrageous to even think about this.”