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Survey Shows Support, Opposition To Efforts To Reform Prop. 13 And Bring Back Affirmative Action

In this March 3, 2020 file photo, a woman runs on a path by a polling place d...

Photo by Gregory Bull / AP Photo

Above: In this March 3, 2020 file photo, a woman runs on a path by a polling place during primary elections in San Diego.

A statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows that Californians are divided on reforming Proposition 13. And so far they don't favor bringing affirmative action back to California.

Proposition 15 on the November ballot would change how commercial property is taxed, by basing it on current market value instead of purchase price. That would create what is called a "split roll" property tax. Although commercial properties would be taxed on their market value, residential and agricultural properties would still be taxed based on the original purchase price.

Listen to this story by Sarah Katsiyiannis.

Backers see it as a reform to Proposition 13, which was passed in the 1970s. Opponents claim it is a first step to repealing Prop. 13.

In the poll, Prop. 15 had a slim majority. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they favored it, while 40% say they were opposed.

Backers like the fact that Prop. 15 would allow greater collection of tax revenues, and opponents are against it for that very same reason.

Mark Baldasarre is president and survey director of the Public Policy Institute. He said polls from past year have also shown a slim majority favoring the creation of a split-roll property tax system. He said winning in the November election will still be tough for Prop 15 supporters.

Photo credit: PPIC

An undated graph of the break down of where like voters are leaning on Props. 15 and 16 on the November 2020 general election

"Whenever you have a slim majority, things are uncertain, especially when you have a "no" side that is well-funded and will be making arguments that will be either persuasive or confusing for people who now say they will support it," Baldasarre said.

Proposition 16, also on the November ballot, would change current laws to allow race and racial diversity to be a factor in hiring and college admissions. Only 31% of the people surveyed said they would vote yes for Prop 16. Forty-seven percent said they would oppose it.

Like Prop. 15, Prop. 16 is meant to change a proposition approved in the past. In this case, Prop. 16 would repeal the law created when California voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996.

Prop. 209 essentially banned affirmative action in California. It said discrimination and preferential treatment were prohibited in public employment, public education, and public contracting on account of a person's or group's race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

Baldassare said the current effort to repeal that law with Prop. 16 faces a lot of challenges.

"It just strikes me that the proponents have a lot of work to do to explain the history and the current circumstances and what a yes vote really means in these circumstances," he said.

He added that the PPIC poll showed that only a third of the people surveyed saw Prop. 16 as something that was "important" to them.

In other survey results, most Californians believe that Governor Gavin Newsom is doing a good job. Sixty percent of likely voters approve of his job performance. And a solid majority of Californians say they are either very concerned (28%) or somewhat concerned (33%) about getting the coronavirus and needing to be hospitalized.

The survey is available online at PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and their Government.

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