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Measures Seek Lower Vote Threshold to Pass Taxes

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Several measures have been introduced this year seeking constitutional changes to how local governments pass and levy special taxes for services and projects. For the most part, the handful of constitutional amendments all seek the same goal: lowering the current vote threshold for local voters to approve special taxes from two-thirds to a 55 percent majority. Legislative Democrats have introduced six Senate Constitutional Amendments (SCA) and two Assembly Constitutional Amendments (ACA).  ACA and SCA measures must be passed by a two-thirds vote in the Legislature before being submitted to the election ballot and placed before voters for final approval. 

John Kabateck, California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business, gives his opinion of these proposals.

"2012 was tough for small business owners – really tough.  Higher taxes passed with Prop. 30, many business friendly candidates for the Assembly and Senate lost and regulations continued to strangle small employers. But... even though Californians just passed one of the highest tax increases in the state’s history this past November, our elected officials want more in the form of local parcel taxes. There are eight constitutional amendments being considered right now that would lower the threshold for local governments to pass increased parcel taxes in one form or another. And the dirty little secret about these bills – they are yet another attempt to change Prop. 13 and the thresholds it created."

"The reality is that parcel taxes pass quite easily with the current standard of two-thirds approval.  People understand the need for better parks and recreation programs, libraries and public safety like police and fire. Their neighbors serve on the boards and commissions that govern those services – they see the effects of cuts personally..."

"What many people may forget is that the passage of these taxes has a layered effect. Start with the burden of additional taxes with Prop. 30, and then add your local increases on top of that.  Soon you begin to realize that a ‘small increase’ adds up to real money!  Small business owners are like everyone else – they have budgets to manage and bills to pay. Add more tax burdens and they have to make up that cost somewhere else."

Kabateck concludes, "A suggestion to our elected officials in Sacramento: instead of continuing to treat Main Street like an ATM, how about introducing eight bills that reduce the cost of doing business, provide regulatory reform or stem the tide of lawsuit abuse? Let’s make an effort to propose legislation that actually helps small business owners protect and create jobs – not drive them out of the state. We’d all be better off for it."

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