Friday, July 15, 2011

The Legislature's Latest Plan to Screw California Taxpayers

A couple weeks ago, we noted an unusual feature of the most recent budget negotiations: Jerry Brown and the Legislature employing budget fixes that appeared to directly contravene the will of the voters, as expressed last November in Props 22, 25, and 26. This was especially interesting to us in light of a pair of bills currently working their way through the Legislature: by a constitutional amendment preventing the passage of initiatives creating "net costs" and a bill harassing signature-gatherers, we wondered if Sacramento was trying to gut one of the few meaningful checks on its behavior. Well, it looks like lawmakers aren't done firing salvos at the initiative process just yet.

This report in Political Blotter describes a new plan from Berkeley Senator Loni Hancock that, if passed, will make tax measures far, far easier to pass. Hancock is pushing SCA 15, a constitutional amendment that bypasses the two-thirds majority requirement for taxes by replacing it with a so-called "double majority." The "double majority" means that a simple majority in the Legislature is sufficient to put a tax measure on the ballot for voters, and a simple majority of voters is sufficient for it to become law.

In spite of the voters' distaste for higher taxes and the fact that even Bill Lockyer thinks the state's taxes are high enough, tax-addicted liberal ideologues have clearly had enough of working with the ideologues across the aisle. According to Hancock, this is a natural follow-up step to Prop 25's majority requirement for budgets. So, yeah, if you believed lawmakers last year when they said Prop 25 wasn't part of any long-term plan to erode the two-thirds requirement for taxes, it looks like the joke's on you.

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