A Renewed Push to Strip Taxpayer Protection
In recent years, California has made headlines over the massive number of residents leaving the state, largely because of its unaffordable cost of living and high taxes.
Naturally, the response of Sacramento politicians to this exodus is to propose a bold new initiative - making it even easier to raise taxes on the public.
A proposed constitutional amendment, ACA 1, would lower the voter threshold from a two-thirds supermajority to 55 percent majority to approve local general obligation bonds and special taxes.
This is a direct attack on one of Proposition 13's most important taxpayer protections - the requirement that special taxes at the local level receive a two-thirds vote of the local electorate.
Special taxes include sales taxes as well as parcel taxes, a particularly insidious form of tax that is especially threatening to homeowners. ACA 1 would repeal the century-old requirement that local bonds, repaid only by property owners, receive a two-thirds vote of local voters. It would apply to a broad list of projects including affordable housing, wastewater treatment and other local infrastructure projects.
Local governments typically fund those projects through bonds or special taxes, like the parcel tax (paid directly by property owners and indirectly by renters) or a dedicated sales tax (paid by everybody).
The existing supermajority requirement ensures a broad community consensus before government exercises its most relentless power - the power to tax.
Moreover, the two-thirds vote requirement for bonds protects property owners who will be paying taxes for those public debts long after a city council or county board of supervisors has voted to place them on the ballot.
It is certainly not impossible to meet the two-thirds threshold to approve special taxes, if appropriate justification is made to voters. Hundreds of such measures have been approved over the last decade.
The good news is that ACA 1 would still have to go on the ballot in 2020 and be approved by a majority vote in a statewide election.
The question is, are voters paying attention?
The Ventura County Taxpayer Association is made up people who recognize the importance of government to our communities. Government should be efficient, effective and always transparent. If you would like to support our efforts, please click here to go to our website and join us .Thank you.