Tag Archives: budget reform

Students, Gavin Newsom, and the 2010 CDP Convention

After the preparations had been made, the tally sheets from our phone calls completed, the carpools worked out, and the volunteers scheduled, I headed to Los Angeles with the hope that after the weekend was complete, there would be no question in the minds of the CDP delegates that Gavin Newsom has the grassroots support necessary to win the Lt. Governor’s race against whatever the GOP throws at us in November.

In the weeks prior to the convention, our team of students from all across the state had been talking to delegates, volunteers, and fellow young voters about Mayor Newsom’s candidacy and about his bold, new ideas that will be required to dig California out of our seemingly never ending state of economic misery.

The pitch was not hard to make. Young people are drawn to Newsom’s campaign. We see public higher education becoming unaffordable to more and more Californians. We fear that in five or ten years our state won’t be able to compete in an evolving global economy, and we worry that the living wage jobs that we will need in order to support our families will be harder and harder to find. While we are confident that our state will come to its senses when it comes to Gay Marriage and LGBT rights, we are concerned that the relentless beat of the status quo won’t provide the framework necessary to drastically change the way we look at issues like immigration, the environment, and budget & tax reform. We have watched the forces of regressiveness drag our state (and our futures) under the surface, and we are ready and eager to support Gavin Newsom, who has proven time and time again in San Francisco that tangible change is not only possible, but it is also necessary.

This is why over 100 enthusiastic volunteers showed up to the state Democratic Party convention this weekend in support of Gavin Newsom. If you were in LA, you may have seen us trailing the candidate as he greeted throngs of excited delegates in the hallways, waiting in the back of crowded caucus rooms to welcome him and hear him speak, or waving signs and holding coffees while passing out muffins on a street corner early on Saturday morning.

The high number of young people supporting Gavin Newsom’s campaign for LG is a testament to the appeal of his dynamic candidacy and engaging personality. Young voters are the bellwether of the coming decades of California Politics, and we are ready to not only vote for, but also work to produce real change. We came out in full force for President Obama, we overwhelmingly opposed Props 4 and 8, and we vented our fear and anger over cuts to higher education during protests up and down the state this past year.

Young people have proven over the last two years that we are ready to lead the next wave of progressive politics in this state. We look at Sacramento and see a broken system that needs fixing, quickly. Income inequality is on the rise, unemployment is approaching record highs, and an archaic budget and tax code protects the interests of the most conservative politicians in the state and stifles any hope of reform. At the same time, we turn to San Francisco and see a city with universal healthcare, universal pre-school, paid sick-leave, and the highest minimum wage in the nation, and we are given a reason to have hope for the future. Because of his track record, my generation feels that we share a vision for the future with Gavin Newsom.  Because of this, we are ready to ensure that he has the opportunity to prove himself on a statewide level. If you were at the convention last weekend, you may have caught a glimpse of that.

You can join Students for Gavin Newsom on Facebook: facebook.com/studentsfornewsom

Close the Prop.13 Loophole

(I want to welcome SF Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting. In addition to being pretty good at his job, he’s also an all-around good guy. Welcome to Calitics! – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

It’s time to acknowledge that the “Third Rail” culture in Sacramento has sent California seriously off track.

Most of us know that Proposition 13 – specifically the vast corporate tax loopholes it contains – is the cause for much of California’s fiscal mess. As the elected Assessor-Recorder in San Francisco, I have a vantage point that allows me to see the tremendous inequity in a law that makes many struggling homeowners pay disproportionately more in property taxes than corporations with downtown office buildings.

Many of our leaders in Sacramento privately acknowledge the flaws in Proposition 13. A small few are brave enough to step forward and call for reform.

But too many others say that this “Third Rail” of politics needs to remain untouched, so instead they offer half solutions and political smokescreen as a substitute for real reforms. Edit by Brian for space, see the flip…

But now is the perfect time to demand our leaders stop ducking problems like Proposition 13 and start solving them. I’m currently working on a proposal to reform Prop. 13, the 1978 ballot initiative that capped the state's property tax rate and created vast loopholes and tax shelters for commercial property owners. You can read more about my proposal and about the crisis California faces in an op-ed piece I wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle last week.

While proponents of Prop. 13 initially touted the protections it offered California homeowners, today, the biggest beneficiaries of Prop. 13 are large companies and corporate landowners who use tax loopholes and shelters to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes.

Prop. 13 opened up loopholes for corporate landowners so their properties are often never reassessed and their property taxes remain at artificially low levels forever. This has shifted the tax burden to the backs of individuals and first-time homeowners and has dramatically reduced California's overall tax base, forcing the draconian cuts to vital services that we see today.

Here’s a staggering example: 30 years ago in San Francisco, commercial property owners contributed 59 percent of property tax revenues while residential property owners contributed 41 percent. Today, we see a virtual flip: commercial property owners contributed just 43 percent of property taxes in 2008 while residential property owners contributed 57 percent.

The more our property tax roll is limited by Prop. 13, the more we rely on regressive taxes and fees, like sales taxes, and we find our state in a perpetual budget crisis. California is losing billions of dollars on corporate property tax loopholes.

My proposal for a split roll system would eliminate corporate tax loopholes. It would rework Prop. 13 to literally split the property tax rolls – assigning appropriate tax levels to corporations while continuing to protect homeowners.

I am organizing a grassroots, netroots community around closing the corporate property tax loopholes in Prop. 13 and creating a split roll system. You can learn more about our campaign and join our cause on our Facebook page or by signing the petition on our website at www.CloseTheLoophole.com.

Most politicians in Sacramento still won’t touch Prop. 13. That’s why we need to take on this issue from the grassroots and build the support necessary to require reform. I hope you will join me on Facebook and at www.CloseTheLoophole.com.

Phil Ting is the Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco.