Measures to Lower Two-Thirds Local Tax Thresholds to 55% Pass Committe

May 16, 2013 - Several proposed state constitutional amendments to lower the threshold by which voters can enact local tax increases from the current two-thirds to a more realistic 55 percent were approved Wednesday by the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. The measures are supported by the State Building Trades, and all passed on party line votes with Democrats in support, Republicans against.

Legislative Director Cesar Diaz stated that the measures, Senate Constitutional Amendments 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 11, would lower the threshold to approve tax increases to 55 percent for various specific purposes, including transportation, education, libraries, and economic development, all of which would drive job creation for the Building Trades.

The measures are designed to address a problem that became apparent in recent election cycles, when overwhelming majorities of local voters approved tax increases for local projects, only to be thwarted because they fell barely short of the two-thirds threshold. For example, in Los Angeles in 2012, Measure J to fund transportation projects received 66.1 percent of the vote. Likewise, in Alameda County, more than 66 percent of voters backed Measure B1 to fund transportation improvements. But the bare one-third minority who voted against the measures prevailed in each case, and vitally important job-creating transportation projects were lost. These constitutional amendments, if approved by the Legislature and then the voters, will remedy that injustice.

All of the measures were sent to other policy committees for further debate.

 

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