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California Propositions That Won & Lost

By: Will White
April 15, 2021

On November 3rd, Californians participated in record numbers in our national and local elections. This election cycle, UWBA developed a voter guide and took positions on several state ballot measures that are core to the work we do in the Bay Area community. While many of the positions we supported failed to garner a majority of the electorate’s support, UWBA remains committed to advocating for policies and programs at the state and local level that support our mission and organizational goals.

One of the more prominent ballot measures UWBA supported was state Proposition 15, which fell short of the 51% support needed to pass. This measure sought to reassess commercial and industry property valued at less than $3 million at its current market rate rather than its purchase price. The current cap on taxable value of commercial property severely constrains our cities and school districts from raising adequate revenue needed to provide high quality education, affordable housing, health care, and transit. If this measure had passed, it would have brought $7.5-$12 Billion annually into our local communities, many of which are struggling to provide these needed services for Bay Area communities.

Another prominent measure UWBA supported was Prop 16, which sought to reinstate affirmative action policies in public sector institutions. This also failed to achieve majority support, receiving only 43.6% of voter support. California voters repealed the use of affirmative action in 1996 with the passage of Proposition 209, which lead to a marked drop in representation for women and people of color in public education and employment. Prop 16 would have reversed the ban on taking race, ethnicity, national origin and gender into consideration for public education, contracting, and employment. This measure represented an opportunity to reinvest in diverse communities and restore fairness for women and people of color looking to succeed in our public sector institutions.

Both Prop 15 and Prop 16, while different in their content, sought to center equity in our conversations around our tax code and public hiring and college admissions. Both had the potential to be truly transformational for the communities we serve in the Bay Area. While many voters in the Bay Area supported these measures, a majority of Californians did not. This election cycle is a reminder of the work we still need to do as a state to ensure equitable outcomes for everyone in our community.

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