Thursday, February 21

Week of action calls for Prop. 13 reform

UCLA student leaders are calling for the reform of California’s property tax system, which they believe could help bring in millions of dollars for the University of California, through a week of action on campus as part of a larger UC campaign.

In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, which limited property taxes for homeowners and business owners to 2 percent of the sale price per year and 1 percent after the property is sold. Under the measure, home and business owners do not have to reassess their property values until their property changes ownership.

UC student leaders advocating Prop. 13 reform said they do not think it is right for large business owners to pay tax rates for values lower than what their property is actually worth.

Members of Fund the UC, a campaign housed in the University of California Students Association, said they want the state to revisit the rates at which businesses are taxed, in order to restore billions of dollars to the state budget.

The campaign’s aim is to place an initiative to amend Proposition 13 on the 2016 ballot.

“Proposition 13 holds property taxes down, but large companies should be paying more in the property taxes so the money can help fund services such as higher education,” said Kareem Aref, UC Student Association president.

Fund the UC students argue that if Proposition 13 reform frees up additional money for the state’s general fund, the UC might secure additional funding to be used to roll back its tuition.

Fund the UC leaders are calling for Proposition 13 to be reformed so that the state will regularly assess commercial property for taxes, said Kelly Osajima, a UCLA alumna and campus organizer for Evolve, an activist group that is working with Fund the UC on the Proposition 13 reform.

According to a 2011 report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, property tax revenue would increase by about $4 billion each year if the state government reassesses nonresidential property every three years, among other factors.

About $2 billion would go to K-12 education and community colleges, but the UC would not be guaranteed any of the $4 billion, according to the report.

Aref said members of the campaign have been distributing postcards with information about Proposition 13 to students, and those who support the campaign can sign the card. The UCSA will take the cards to state offices that would be able to take action on the reform, such as Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

Aref said he does not know how many postcards have been collected so far, but Osajima said the goal is to reach 10,000 signed postcards during this year’s campaign.

The UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council’s external vice president’s Office and Office of the President are also participating in Fund the UC’s week of action by gathering on Bruin Walk to encourage students to join the campaign. UC student officials said they hope to expand Fund the UC’s efforts through gaining more student supporters.

Compiled by Laura Boranian, Bruin contributor.

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