One progressive measure among a slew of California ballot propositions this election might have stood more of a chance had we not been in the middle of a pandemic-triggered recession. But as it stands, with just under a million and a half votes left to count, Prop 15 is going down by a narrow margin, with voters expressing reluctance about piling on taxes when many businesses are struggling.
After still looking too close to call last week, after Election Day, Prop 15 now has 51.8% "no" votes. With 1.48 million ballots still being tallied, as the Chronicle reports, two-thirds of those would need to be "yes" votes for it to still pass, and that is looking highly unlikely. So far, about three million fewer Californians voted "yes" on the measure than voted for Joe Biden — seven million, compared to 10 million who voted for the President-Elect.
To be clear, Prop 15 would only have impacted businesses in the state that own property that's worth over $3 million combined, and have more than 50 employees. The change to 1978's Prop 13 — which assesses all property based on its original purchase price and taxes it at rate that rises with inflation or by 2% each year, whichever is less — would have exempted small businesses and agricultural land, but all other commercial property would have to pay taxes based on current market value, raising more money for education across the state.
Still, this was apparently too much extra taxation in the minds of California's electorate — which proved this year that it isn't all that liberal or progressive, when push comes to shove, at least during a recession. Two other progressive measures, which would have lifted a ban on affirmative action and expanded rent control, were rejected by voters last week. And voters also sided with Uber, Lyft, and other gig-economy companies, allowing them to preserve a business model that keeps the bulk of their workforce — drivers — as independent contractors by approving Prop 22.
"We’re not going to go for everything that’s progressive," said Mindy Romero, head of the University of Southern California's Center for Inclusive Democracy, speaking to Politico last week. "We think of ourselves as such a progressive state, and I’ve always said we’re a blue state but really we’re many shades of blue."
"Democrats and the governor have to ask themselves if they’re not a bit out of touch with the electorate after seeing these results," said GOP strategist Rob Stutzman, speaking to the Sacramento Bee. "I think there’s enough evidence here to reasonably conclude that the policy coming out of the Legislature is more liberal than California."
Top Image: People vote inside the historic Hollywood Pantages Theatre on November 3, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)