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Commentary: Prop 15 is good for all San Diegans

By María Nuñez

When I came to this country as a child, I would have never imagined that one day I would have the honor to be a council member in San Marcos, the city where my family settled after immigrating from Mexico. But today, as an elected official, I am able to appreciate the value of our public education system and community services.

My entire education took place in San Marcos, from elementary school to high school, to Palomar Community College and then Cal State San Marcos. I was fortunate to attend schools when California was investing heavily in public education and the infrastructure we all depend on today.

Sadly, a steep decline in funding has greatly robbed students, particularly those who come from underprivileged backgrounds such as mine. California today ranks 37th in the nation for per-pupil spending in K-12 education and is dead last in the ratio of students to teachers, counselors, and nurses.

That’s because since 1978, our schools and communities have suffered from chronic underfunding in large part because of a decades-old rule that has allowed a handful of multinational corporations to skip paying their fair share.

I am voting yes on Prop. 15 because it is time to update how California business and industrial properties are taxed and enable local governments to raise funds for critical services that children and families need — all while protecting small businesses, homeowners and renters.

It will make corporations like Disneyland and SeaWorld — that charge 2020 ticket prices while they pay 1978 commercial property taxes —  pay taxes on the fair market value of their properties, not the original sale price from decades ago. It will also make golf clubs pay what they should.

The Associated Press recently reported that the La Jolla Country Club —  with its 130 acres — pays roughly the same amount in property taxes as a three-bedroom home. Prop 15 would shut down that loophole. All told, it will raise roughly $12 billion per year to invest in the things that benefit all of us.

Prop 15 will benefit every school, every community college and every city in San Diego County by providing roughly $700 million per year for local cities to fund emergency response, youth programs and street repair; to local K-12 schools for teachers, books and counselors; and to special districts for water delivery, fire protection and healthcare.

The San Marcos Unified School District, where I went to school, will receive an additional $12 million per year into perpetuity. The Palomar Community College District will get more than $8 million every year. And the city that I serve will get $2 million for essential services.

As a small business owner, I’m grateful that Prop 15 exempts business properties valued at or under $3 million, small businesses are already paying more than their fair share — so only the top 10% would pay most of the revenue.

According to a Beacon Economics study commissioned by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Prop. 15 will not impact small-business renters like myself.

As the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed, our communities are seriously underfunded and lacking vitally needed revenue for local governments and schools. We must think ahead to better prepare the leaders of tomorrow and help our communities thrive.

María Nuñez is a City Council Member for District 1 in San Marcos. María owns Nuñez Law Corporation, a firm focused on helping individuals and small businesses.