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Bleak future for voter-threshold tax bills

California lawmakers this year introduced an array of bills that would lower the voting requirement to approve taxes for local infrastructure, schools, libraries, and the like.

But the chances of these bills passing the Legislature – at least this year — are slim at best.

That’s reassuring to the California Apartment Association and other business groups in a coalition that’s opposed the measures, which would amend the state Constitution and undermine Proposition 13. Each requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, and the Legislative Newssupport of voters, to become law.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has said lawmakers have bigger priorities this year than fiddling with Prop. 13.

“The question of lowering voter thresholds for the specific taxes on the local level, which is really the beginning of that conversation … definitely should be had and probably will be had at some point in this two-year session,” Steinberg said, according to the Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert this spring. “But let’s have 2013 be a year where we are focused on bread and butter.”

Even if the bills make it to voters, 2014 is the earliest they could grace a ballot.

The bills have more in common than not. Each would lower the voter threshold for increasing taxes from the current two-thirds to 55 percent. The amendments differ, however, regarding the government bodies that do the taxing, the type of taxes that would be affected and where the money goes.

The sampling below reveals some of the similarities and differences among the bills.

SCA 3 (D-Leno)

Governments affected: school districts, community college districts and county offices of education.

Actions and tax type: impose, increase or extend parcel taxes on real property.

SCA 7 (D-Wolk)

Governments affected: cities, counties and school districts.

Actions and tax types: impose, increase or extend local special taxes, including parcel taxes.

Purpose: Public libraries.

SCA 8 (D-Corbett)

Tax type: Special taxes

Purpose:Transportation projects

SCA 9 (D-Corbett)

Governments affected: local government.

Actions and tax type: impose, extend or increase special taxes.

Purpose: community and economic development projects.

SCA 11 (D-Hancock)

Governments affected: cities, counties and school districts

Actions and tax types: impose, increase or extend local special taxes, including most local taxes (e.g., local sales and use tax, transactions tax, etc.) and parcel taxes.

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By Published On: September 26, 2014

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