| Reform would also require voter approval
by Brian Leubitz
Fresh off Robert's call for action, the Democratic Supermajority is now looking at one of the bizarre aspects of our election law. Specifically, our system of differing thresholds for taxes, bonds, and other ballot measures.
As it stands right now, most targeted tax increases require a 2/3 vote of the people. Many general tax increases only require a simple majority. Why is is that we require a higher vote total for a more planned out increase? And of course, bonds require the seemingly random 55%. Why 55% you ask? Well, it's more than 50% of course.
But that may change with the Democratic supermajority taking a look. Dan Walters has it as one of Sen. Steinberg's top priorities.
Among other things, it means that Democrats are empowered to place constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot without any Republican support and legislative leaders - Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, particularly - want to reduce the vote requirements for local government and school district taxes, particularly those parcel taxes.
If schools could raise more money locally through parcel taxes, it would reduce the state budget's school finance burden.
Twenty-five school parcel tax measures were on the ballot last week and 15 of them passed, including three in the $200-per-parcel neighborhood. And all but one of those that failed achieved more than 50 percent approval, indicating that were the vote requirement to be reduced, parcel taxes could generate a substantial flow of revenue. (SacBee)
Walters, and the Sacramento CW, see this as a moderate first step. And moderate it is. After all, only a bare majority is required at the ballot (after the 2/3 approval of the legislature) to change this system. And if we can change the constitution by a bare majority, shouldn't we be at least able to raise our taxes?
This isn't going to overhaul Sacramento, but if it happens, it is one solid baby step.