California Supreme Court to weigh removing ballot measure aimed at impeding tax hikes

May 8, 2024


The California Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on Wednesday about whether or not to remove a measure from the November ballot that would require all new taxes and tax increases to be approved by voters. [ABC News]

Currently, the state Legislature can raise taxes with a two-thirds vote in both the Assembly and Senate. The ballot measure would require voters statewide to approve tax hikes initiated by the Legislature. Such tax hikes would only take effect if a majority of voters approve.

Additionally, the measure would change how communities can raise taxes through citizen initiatives. Currently, a local ballot measure for a tax increase requires a simple majority vote. The initiative would raise the threshold to a two-thirds majority.

Furthermore, the ballot measure would reclassify many government fees as taxes. It would also apply retroactively to any tax increase approved after Jan. 1, 2022.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is seeking to remove the initiative from the ballot. The governor, along with the Legislature and California Democratic Party Chair John Burton, filed a lawsuit last fall asking the court to remove the ballot measure.

The suit argues the initiative would “eliminate much of the executive branch’s administrative and regulatory power and would repeal taxing authority that the Legislature has held throughout California’s history.”

Likewise, the suit claims the ballot measure would curtail revenue local jurisdictions need to fund essential public services ranging from trash collecting to firefighting, as well as make it more difficult to respond to state emergencies like earthquakes and global pandemics.

Supporters of the initiative, including business groups and taxpayer advocates, argue Californians face some of the highest taxes and highest costs of living in the United States and changes are needed.

“The whole issue here is that they are scared to death of the people of California being empowered to vote on state and local taxes,” said Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable.

California’s Supreme Court is expected to rule before late June whether the initiative would revise the state Constitution and impair essential government functions. June 27 is the deadline for the California Secretary of State to certify the state’s general election ballot. 


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Newsom is showing his true colors here. Of course it should be on the ballot! It qualified under the laws governing these propositions. If it passes, the weight of the bureaucracy can challenge it in court.

Meanwhile our state is broke and Newsom is allegedly looking to fire state employees and cut back on services – a hugely unpopular decision with the ruling government elitists. His objection to this proposition is based on his firmly held belief that the state needs more money, and this proposition could weaken his ability to tax Californians at will.

Think of initiative writers and signers as “the super informed”. These are the citizens who have an inkling of what goes on in California. The vast majority of voters are “lightly informed”, those that vote for Bruce Gibson for example. The “super informed” are the voters that Gov. Hairdo and his ilk, fear. So naturally, these are the voters they wish to suppress with measures such as you see illustrated in this article.

Don’t you think it’s a little condescending to hold a world view that amounts to “my side is full of very smart people and we only lose because all the stupid people vote bad” – perhaps there are smart, informed people on both sides, as well as knuckle dragging idiots.

This ballot measure seems to forget we are a Republic, it is the legislatures constitutional responsibility to set taxes, if those taxes are too high, or too low to fund the government we vote the rascals out. I’m exhausted with special interest groups – left and right – trying to run this state via ballot measure. If you don’t like policies or want to see changes, you elect a majority to the State Legislature, State Senate, and Governor’s mansion. If you lose it’s either because the people aren’t in agreement, or they are, but are really put off by some other position you hold. I’m ticked off with Democrats holding a trifecta for over a decade, but I think it’s fair to be even more ticked off with Republicans who either don’t have the brains or the guts to shift policy and message in order to win, just a bunch of virtue signalers who can’t even unseat Gavin Newsom in an off year election. Madison is rolling in his grave.

Almost as bad if voters get to decide if raises are earned for officials or get to set compensation limits. The horror this would create. There might actually be money to fix infrastructure and maintain services.

Casually looking it up, the BoS and all the administrators in that office have a budget that is 6% of what the county spends just on roads, not including capital projects and other fun stuff. So I don’t really think compensation for officials is what’s breaking the budget. Also there has always been a very easy solution – don’t vote for people who would accept a BoS salary.

Actually compensation IS what is breaking the budget! Pensions are part of compensation, and the County’s BILLION dollar unfunded pension liability renders the County insolvent in any other universe except government with their unlimited resources.

Gov’t serves it’s over compensated employees not the general public.

Re publica comes from rule public or the public rules (Latin). Democracy comes from people power or the people have power (Ancient Greek). Sadly, what we really have is Pecunia Praecepta, money rules.

The less money Sacto and our local gov’ts can have the better.

I believe that is an overly continental socialist way of looking at the state of affairs. Perhaps more importantly it’s defeatist – your assumption is that we have to break constitutional government since you’ll never win a majority in it, poppycock, we still live in a Madisonian system not some plutocracy. There is loads of potential to win legislative elections, reclaim the levers of government and implement a saner tax system, rather than trying to chip at one frozen in Carbonite.

And the democrats say that conservatives are destroying our democracy…people need to wise up; and take back control of their lives from the hypocritical, self-serving liberals that care only about their own wallets.

Maybe the ballot measure should have to pass by 2/3rds. It seems democratic for something that imposes a super majority on future generations to have to pass by the same threshold it endorses.

Imposing on future generations is spending their money without their consent.

Wow, I bet Newsom’s knee pads are going to get some miles on them with those justices to make sure they make the “right” call. It is absurd how badly leaders just want to take more and more power away from the people.

It’s a democratic governments right to raise and to lower taxes. To me it seems undemocratic to say that if a unanimous legislature and 65% of voters want to raise hotel taxes or set up a toll road, that they can’t – it seems this ballot measure is what’s really taking power away from the people.

So it’s also democratic for said leader to change recall election rules with no voter input to ensure he stays in power? That’s a banana republic move there.

So that’s the process?

Happy to see a movement trying to save California from our incompetent bureaucrats. If Newsom changes laws so we can’t dump our rouge politicians, then we need to change the way taxes are levied and take charge of our destiny.