It just got a lot easier to raise taxes in California.
Now, if a group of citizens gather signatures to put a tax increase on the ballot for a specific purpose – something like building a football stadium, a convention center, or a bunch of low-income housing – it will only require approval of a simple majority of voters.
That means leaders have a significantly easier path to raise taxes, if they let private groups write the measure and pay for the signature-gathering effort.
The shift is the result of a ruling from the California Supreme Court released Monday. Scott Lewis broke down what the shift means for San Diego, where officials have a large and growing wish list for new stuff, and now a much easier way to pay for it.
A coalition of progressive and union-backed groups has already discussed putting up a ballot measure in 2018 to fund homelessness solutions and low-income housing. The San Diego Association of Governments is staring at a $17 billion budget shortfall from a tax hike passed in 2004, and watched a tax hike last year fall short of the two-thirds threshold. The mayor failed this summer to get the City Council to approve a tax hike to fund a Convention Center expansion, which would have needed two-thirds approval. Who knows what else regional leaders might be interested in now that the political lift is so much lighter.
But the party might be short-lived.