The fight over what's likely to be the most bitterly fought over — and most expensive — proposition on the November 3 general election ballot has already begun.
Proposition 15 would partially repeal Proposition 13, one of the most famous ballot measures in California history. Proposition 13 was part of the tax revolt in 1978 to reduce property taxes that was approved by voters.
But Prop. 15 would partially repeal Proposition 13 as it basically asks the voters to raise taxes on business properties worth $3 million or more. Supporters say the measure will generate $12 billion for such entities as public schools and health care who depend on property taxes for most of their revenue.
A California judge ruled on Wednesday changes must be made to the election guide, ruling arguments against Proposition 15 are “false or misleading.”
As it stands now, Proposition 13 limits property taxes on businesses to 1 percent of the sales prices and to a 2 percent increase per year. Proposition 15 would allow local municipalities to tax businesses worth $3 million or more based on their market value once every three years.
Proposition 15 doesn't apply to homeowners. But opponents of the measure wrote in the voter information guide the initiative would allow the Legislature to raise property taxes on homeowners.
Their argument is because some business owners operate small businesses from their homes, the proposition allows the Legislature to increase their property taxes.
Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled that "is misleading if not outright false." He said the proposition exempts home-based businesses from being taxed. He also said the statement made by opponents in their argument there's "no accountability how the money is spent" should also be deleted.
Opponents also challenged the statement by those in favor in their argument the measure “does not impact homeowners and renters.” Arguelles said that language could stay.
But opponents did receive a partial victory when the judge said “all” businesses worth less than $3 million won't be taxed should be removed. He said there are situations where property owned by multiple entities could be taxed.
"The court's ruling today is concrete evidence that there are consequences for running a campaign based solely on debunked scare tactics," said Alex Stack, communications director for the Yes on 15 campaign.
Michael Bustamante, spokesperson for the No on Prop 15 campaign, said elections aren't won or lost by ballot arguments.
"This one will be won once voters know that Prop 15 is a $12.5 billion tax increase they can't afford," he said.
Associated Press contributed to this story.