Evolve’s 8:00 am trip to the West Contra Costa Mayors Meeting was a huge success! Last Thursday mayors from three out of the four cities who have not yet passed our Close the Loophole resolution agreed to take it up at their next city council meeting. And this does not even include the city of Richmond, who was one of the first cities to pass this resolution to reform Prop 13. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin expressed her utmost appreciation for the work Evolve continues to do on this crucial issue.
The meeting began with an excellent 20 minute presentation by our campaign director, Ben Grieff. Ben was extremely clear in articulating the provisions of this responsible solution to California’s budget problem, pointing out first and foremost that this resolution is not for everyone. “If you believe that California’s state and local governments are already receiving adequate revenue and that all our budget problems can be solved by more cuts & restraint: this resolution is not for you.” Fortunately, four of the five mayors in attendance did recognize that we do have a budget crisis that cannot be solved by continuing to cut funds from our already struggling schools and public services. Ben was also very clear in explaining that this reform would not increase taxes on any residential properties, apartment buildings, or small businesses. But even after very clearly explaining the exemptions for homeowners, renters and small businesses, the opposition proceeded to make their case without any of this in mind.
The man speaking on behalf of the opposition did not make a compelling argument as to why large commercial property owners shouldn’t pay their fair share. He pleaded the importance of protecting Prop 13 because of homeowners and small businesses, both of which would already be protected under this reform. The mayors of Richmond & San Pablo exposed this major flaw in the opposing arguments after both presentations had been given. I made my own public comment pointing out that virtually every argument opposing this common sense reform involved homeowners & small businesses, neither of which would be impacted by this. Many of our members who were in attendance also made public comments reaffirming their support for this critical reform that would bring back billions of dollars to our state each year. It was great to see such a great crowd attend this meeting regarding the future of our state and the future of our schools.
We look forward to getting more and more school boards and city councils to join the 30 who have already passed this resolution to close the commercial property tax loopholes in Prop 13. After 35 years, it’s time to tax corporations and commercial property owners fairly and bring our state back to the pinnacle of public education that it once was.