Newsom A Barrier To Tech Progress

In 2013, then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government.” The book advances the idea of how government could use technology to “house the needs, concerns, information and collaboration of an enlightened digital citizenry.” The book was both well-written and compelling.

Given the innovative ideas advanced in his book, it was disappointing to see the governor veto two bills that would have used technology to improve citizens’ accessibility to their government.

First, Senate Bill 675 would have authorized a county board of supervisors, if they so choose, to allow property owners either over the age of 62, or those individuals on SSID regardless of age, to pay their property tax in monthly installments. But the ability to bill in monthly installments, ubiquitous in the private sector, and already possible in states including Idaho, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, was apparently too much for the Golden State. Gov. Newsom vetoed the bill, stating that Californians struggling to pay their property taxes already had options and that the bill contained “significant administrative and fiscal burdens.”

Despite Proposition 13, many retirees and seniors on fixed incomes still struggle to pay their property taxes in two big lump sums.

SB 675 simply would have given homeowners an additional option to pay their taxes in a timely manner and, at the same time, allowed them to incorporate property taxes into their monthly budgets. But the governor’s newfound fiscal restraint when it comes to investing in things that would benefit the taxpayer and the inability for government to implement widely accessible technology apparently got in the way.

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