UPDATE 2:10pm: The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association just announced Thursday afternoon, they are appealing the decision a lower court made, which found the ballot title “misleading” in Proposition 15’s title and summary, but failed to take corrective action, allowing deceptive ballot information to remain on the ballot, according to HJTA.
The HJTA filed a writ of mandate directly to the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District seeking reversal of a trial court decision handed down on Tuesday that failed to correct false and misleading ballot material submitted by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to Proposition 15, the largest property tax hike in state history, HJTA reported.
Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled Wednesday that the partisan slanting of ballot language in Proposition 15 was biased and misleading.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra once again wrote a biased ballot Title and Summary, which deliberately misleads voters about Prop. 15, the initiative that will remove Prop. 13’s property tax protections for commercial property and institute the largest property tax increase in California history.
Judge Arguelles said that the paragraph “is misleading if not outright false,” saying the proposal exempts the operation of a home-based business from reassessment. He also ruled other language deleted that said there is “no accountability how the money is spent.” However, it does not appear that just because he “ruled” the language was biased and misleading, that there is an order to do so.
California Globe recently reported:
Currently, under the 1978 Proposition 13, property tax rates could not exceed 1 percent of the property’s market value and valuations couldn’t grow by more than 2% per annum unless the property was sold, according to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
While claiming the anticipated $12 billion annually from Prop. 15 will go to schools and California cities desperate for bailouts, proponents are not addressing the snowball effect the initiative will have on property owners, small businesses, and consumers.
Property taxes will double and even triple for many commercial property owners, and those costs will be passed on to the small businesses renting space, and eventually to consumers.
“The attorney general contorts the English language to avoid using the word ‘tax.’ Unfortunately, he can’t call Prop 15 a revenue increase, since, as the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says, some rural governments could lose money if Prop 15 passes.
The initiative should have been called: “The largest property tax increase in California history.”
At issue is the very serious problem in California of confusion at the ballot box. This is why the original lawsuit was filed, and what was expected to be addressed by the Superior Court Judge. But that did not happen, so the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association took the battle directly to the California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District.
Here is how this new “revenue stream” is expected to be dispersed:
1) About $1 billion comes right off the top and goes to counties to pay for administrative costs and paying back the state for loss of income tax revenue, according to the LAO analysis.
2) About 60% goes to unspecified local government services. The legislature can divert the new local government revenues for other purposes, just like they did with the gas tax, the lottery and other revenue streams intended for local government.
3) Lastly, 40% goes to schools with no guarantee that the money makes it to the classroom. There are no reforms and no requirements that the money be spent in the classroom.
Many in the state have called for the writing of ballot titles and summaries to be done by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association:
“The courts should act as a check and balance, ensuring that the Attorney General is doing his job in presenting a ‘true and impartial statement’ to voters. While the judge agreed with us that his description of Prop 15 is ‘somewhat misleading,’ she did not take corrective action. Our only remedy is seeking an appeal to ensure voters are told the truth—Prop 15 is a tax increase we will all pay for,” said Jon Coupal, President of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “While the Elections Code requires an impartial statement to voters, the appellate court, in previous rulings, has allowed the Attorney General to have ‘broad discretion’ over his or her writing of a ballot title and summary. This legal standard has been repeatedly abused by the Attorney General, who has been sued on 6 of the 12 titles and summaries he drafted this year alone. Our lawsuit seeks to not only ensure voters understand the true impact of Prop 15, but also remedy this previous ruling by the appellate court that has given the Attorney General unfettered ability to deceive voters.”
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