If a group of citizens in California gathers signatures for a tax increase and gets it onto the ballot, it now will require only a simple majority to pass, not two-thirds.
A bombshell ruling from the California Supreme Court Monday will have enormous consequences up and down the state but particularly here in San Diego, where leaders are considering a bevy of tax increases.
If government leaders let citizens’ groups take the lead with private funding, they could make those taxes much, much easier to pass.
Until Monday, any local tax increase needed support from two-thirds of voters if the money was going to pay for something specific. So, for example, if the city wanted to raise the hotel-room tax to pay for a new football stadium, the measure would need two-thirds support.
If a local government only wanted more money and declined to say what the money would be used for specifically, the measure only needed a simple majority – the support of 50 percent of voters plus one.
That was the law that applied to citizens’ initiatives as well.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
So the govt will now write an initiative, find community front group and collect sigs. Who is to say its against the law?
I think we will see many ballot measures "qualify" and more competing initiatives each cycle. Dueling interpretations and claims of false statements. On the positive side, voter turnout may go up if only to vote against being bled to death in the face of stagnant wages.
Sales tax, the most regressive tax, is no vehicle for narrow non-public policy.
Community groups my butt. What we're going to get are more well healed developers like the SuckerCity crowd who will buy up signatures at $5 a pop to qualify their own self serving initiatives on the ballot, tax initiatives included, that will add to their own bottom line. We'll see more ballot measures bought and paid for wealthy sponsors, by and for their own profits.
Setting the legal issues aside, why should a supermajority be required to increase taxes if it isn't to decrease taxes? And why should that supermajority rule apply only to elected government and not to corporate interests using paid signature gatherers?
The supermajority rule is the state meddling in local affairs. If San Diego wants a supermajority rule, then San Diego should pass one.