A Victory for California Taxpayers

This past week a direct attack on Proposition 13 was resoundingly voted down by the California State Assembly. Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 would have changed a key element of Prop. 13 by lowering the current two-thirds vote needed to pass local bonds and special taxes — including parcel taxes — to just 55 percent.

Bond debt and parcel taxes are paid by adding extra charges to property tax bills, sometimes for decades, which are not subject to Proposition 13’s one-percent cap. The two-thirds vote requirement is a crucial taxpayer protection because while everyone gets to vote on these local measures, only property owners pay for them.

If ACA 1 had been approved by two-thirds of each house of the state Legislature, it would have gone on the ballot, where it would have needed only a simple majority to pass. That would have changed Proposition 13 to allow tax increases for anything defined as “infrastructure” to pass with the approval of only 55 percent of the electorate in any (or every) subsequent election.

Taxpayers face a treacherous landscape in California. Legislative Democrats have more than super-majority control over the Assembly, meaning seven Democrats could oppose ACA 1 and it still would have passed. Taxpayer advocates, led by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, were outnumbered by about 15 to 1 in the halls of the Capitol as lobbyists for local government entities including cities, counties, special districts and firefighters raced from office to office looking for last-minute support.

To read the entire column, please click here.