This is part of a series of Q&As for Mayoral and City Council candidates for the November 2020 election. Questions were submitted by Milpitas residents.
Proposition 15 would increase taxes for large commercial properties, which would bring in between $6.5 to $11.5 billion each year for local government services and education in California. Small business owners, homeowners, and renters would be exempt from a tax increase. Do you support or oppose Proposition 15? Why or why not?
Voltaire Montemayor: It is indicative that there will be a residual tax presumably from the commercial and industrial property taxes; steady on the residential property tax. Businesses paying more to operate in California; the combined values of $3 million or less of agricultural properties of owners of commercial and industrial is a probable plus or minus tax revenue in addition or to deduct, but regardless, there will be plus or residual tax. The bottom line for me is “Yes” to support Prop 15, mainly to consider Funding Schools. I prioritize education for All.
Rich Tran: Opposed.
City Council Candidates
Evelyn Chua: As a community, the developers play an important and essential role in the progress of our city. Economic developments on properties are revenue generators. Commercial developments rejuvenate old and blighted properties. Hence, they’re another source of income for the city. Currently, our city levies several development fees. That being said, Proposition 15 on taxing commercial and industrial properties at market rates will put a heavy burden on community developments. It could slow down or totally shutdown developments in our city. Hence, we might not have enough industrial and commercial businesses to sustain the services we need to provide to our residents. I’m not against taxing developments on commercial and industrial properties based on market value. But it has to be gradual over a period of time and just as the benefactor, the government and school systems will use the revenue over a period of time as well. Therefore, I’m against Proposition 15 the way it’s currently written.
Julian Nool Hilario Jr.: I am in support of Proposition 15. The funding will support kindergarten to 12th-grade public schools, community colleges, and the community. I believe our school systems need help to reduce the number of students in the classroom, provide adequate ratios to counselors and nurses, and improve on the programs within the schools. As for our community colleges, this will help alleviate their shortcomings in their budget in continuing to train and educate today’s workforce for jobs that lead to gainful employment and upward economic mobility. This proposition will not affect the homeowners and renters, small businesses, and agricultural land.
Robert Marini: I support Prop 15 because it raises revenue from large companies.
Demetress Morris: Proposition 15, known as the Schools and Communities First Initiative, will allow commercial properties to be taxed at their fair market value, as opposed to the value at the time when they were purchased. This action is beneficial when Milpitas has organizations such as Amazon in our backyard paying relatively no taxes. Therefore, small businesses who have less than $3 million would be exempt, as well as owners who own their property, from such tax increase; this is a good thing.
Bob Nuñez: I do not support Prop 15. Though we do need to fix the inequities or loopholes in Prop 13, Prop 15 is not the vehicle to do that. It will hurt small business owners by increasing rents. The three-million- dollar threshold for commercial properties will hit hardest on our small building owners and on individuals with small estate inheritance property. Most of these new taxes will be passed on to the small business owners and the consumers.
Anthony Phan: While I do support efforts to achieve common-sense reforms of Proposition 13, I have major reservations about Proposition 15, especially considering the timing amidst the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression. As businesses continue to leave California and millions of workers remain unemployed, the risks of unintended consequences are simply too high to pass the largest property sales tax increase in California’s history. Our small businesses have been hit hard during this pandemic, and we should be doing everything we can to support them, bringing back jobs, and creating new opportunities, not the other way around.
Suraj Viswanathan: An $11 billion tax increase on businesses right now would be highly ill-advised. Businesses have closed or are closing due to the pandemic. A tax increase of this size would ensure that many will never re-open again. We should be working to improve California’s business climate, currently rated the worst in the nation. Prop. 15 will make it worse.
Tiffany Vuong: I support Proposition 15, also known as Schools and Communities First, because it would close a corporate tax loophole that makes our community lose out on much needed dollars every year. Prop 15 will only affect commercial and industrial real properties that are worth more than $3 million, exempting small businesses. The opposition–big businesses–know this is a common sense reform and that our communities stand to gain from this proposition. The measure will not impact real estate property at all, yet they are trying to scare homeowners into voting no because they know they do not have the people power to win. 60% of the funds from Prop 15 will go to cities, counties, and local districts. 40% will go to schools and community colleges based on the number of students they have. You want to address the overcrowding at Milpitas Unified School District and invest in our youth? Vote Yes on Prop 15. This would be much needed revenue for our city and especially so because of the recession. The money generated will allow us to make up for the budget deficit and continue strengthening our community programs and boosting our city services. Vote Yes on Prop 15.