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Most Californians back easing Prop. 13 to raise property taxes on businesses, poll finds

Most Californians back easing Prop. 13 to raise property taxes on businesses, poll finds
A power plant looms over Redondo Beach. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

A majority of California voters back a potential 2020 ballot measure that would increase property taxes on businesses, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Of the 691 registered voters surveyed, 54% said they supported a measure that would ease property tax protections established by the landmark 1978 ballot measure Proposition 13. Under the proposed 2020 initiative, local governments and schools could tax larger commercial and industrial properties based on their market values rather than the values based on when the properties were purchased, resulting in as much as $10 billion annually in new revenue.

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Backing for the proposed change was high among Democrats, with 64% in favor, and a majority of those surveyed across regions of the state were behind it. Support was weakest among Republicans, with just over a third in favor.

Analysts warned that the poll results do not mean a 2020 campaign is necessarily in a strong position. Supporters of charging higher taxes on commercial and industrial properties have debated such a measure for years, but have never put it on the ballot. Business groups have long warned the change would hurt California's economy.

Mike Murphy, a GOP strategist, said that pushback to the Proposition 13 change could knock down support.

"Even when something like this as a pitch tests well, in real life, it melts very quickly," Murphy said.

The online survey was conducted between April 18 and May 18 in English and Spanish. The margin of sampling error was four percentage points in either direction.

Jill Darling, survey director for the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, contributed to this report.

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