Just When You Thought the Battle Against Prop. 31 Was Over

Poll Softening Up Voters For Split Roll Tax

 

Dec. 8, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

“Ignorance is strength.” –- George Orwell

California’s opinion polling has deteriorated to “measuring the public’s satisfaction with its ignorance” fed to them by pollsters.

That is the only conclusion that can be made from the recent opinion poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). The poll incredibly indicates that the public now approves many of the so-called “reforms” it just overwhelming rejected at the ballot box only 30 days ago.

PPIC unbelievably reports that voters now approve many of the parts of Proposition 31 that was rejected on Nov. 6 by 2,435,430 votes reflecting a 61 percent to 39 percent margin, such as:

– A two-year budget cycle (56 percent now reportedly approve);

– Increasing the budget rainy day fund (72 percent now reportedly approve); and

– Requiring new programs and tax reductions to identify a funding source (79 percent now reportedly approve).

The PPIC poll is so biased that it failed to inform the 2,001 respondents to its poll that two rainy-day funds are already in the law books in California. The “Budget Stabilization Account” provides for setting aside from 3 percent to 5 percent of estimated general fund revenues not to exceed a cap of $8 billion. Five percent of the current $92 billion state general fund budget would be $4.6 billion. Also, California’s“Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties” provides for the state controller to transfer a year-end budget surplus from a prior year to cover a revenue shortfall in the current year. The approved 2012 general fund budget includes $948 million in the “Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties” and $0 in the “Budget Stabilization Account.” The apparent purpose of such unneeded but popular reforms is to get voters to approve other items included in ballot initiatives that would be controversial such as the adoption of unelected regional councils that could make funding decisions without voter accountability.

PPIC also failed to inform those polled that there is nothing forbidding the Legislature from approving a two-year budget cycle now without voter approval. Only tax proposals require voter approval.

And as for requiring new programs or tax reductions to identify a funding source, again the PPIC poll question is deceptive.  The poll fails to tell those polled that this proposed reform would forbid cutting any programs or state pensions –- unless of course taxes were raised.

Split-roll property tax deception

The PPIC poll asked California residents:

“Under Proposition 13, residential and commercial property taxes are both strictly limited. What do you think about having commercial properties taxed according to their current market value? Do you favor or oppose this proposal?”

– 57 percent favor

– 36 percent oppose

– 7 percent don’t know

What the PPIC poll omitted was that commercial properties are already taxed according to their current market value UPON RESALE.

The proposal to approve a split-roll property tax is about taxing commercial properties differently than residential properties. Commercial properties would be reassessed every year or three years no matter if they sell or not. Residential properties would remain reassessed only when they are resold. In other words, commercial properties with older tax assessments would have their taxes increased even if the owners did not realize any monies from a sale. For example, stocks are taxed only when they sell, not when their price goes up or down at the end of each year.

What if the PPIC poll had accurately asked: “Would you vote for removing Proposition 13 for commercial properties if you knew”:

– Ninety-seven percent of all commercial properties in the state are owned by small businesses?

– It would result in losing 396,345 jobs over the first five years?

– It would increase the current unemployment rate of 10.9 percent to 13.1 percent?

– The lost economic output would be $71.8 billion over five years?

In other words, ending Proposition 13 protections on commercial properties would result in losing about $14.4 billion in economic productivity per year to get about $3 billion to $8 billion annually in new property taxes. Stated differently, the private economy would shrink and government would grow.

Government property tax revenues would be susceptible to greater instability — the ups and downs of tax revenues — as commercial and industrial property values are affected by the swings and cycles of the larger economy.  Proposition 13 now protects local governments and school district from large drops in taxes due to rapid declines in market values from economic cycles.

Opinion polling in California has deteriorated to sheer propaganda paid for by large corporate foundations in return for laws and regulations that ensure them of monopolies from outside competition.

British writer George Orwell in his novel “1984” wrote about a slogan used by “Big Brother” government: “ignorance is strength.” Public opinion polls in California don’t measure public opinion as much as they manufacture and strengthen the public’s satisfaction with its ignorance.

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