The California Supreme Court may have just made it a lot easier to pass certain kinds of taxes. The state’s highest court on Wednesday declined to review an appeals court’s ruling permitting San Francisco to fund child care and early education programs with a tax approved by 51% of voters. Under a ballot measure California voters approved in 1996, any tax increase proposed by local government to fund specific programs must be passed by two-thirds of voters. But the child care tax was placed on the San Francisco ballot by residents collecting signatures, and that initiative power is “one of the most precious rights of our democratic process” and must be interpreted broadly, the appeals court ruled.
The state Supreme Court in September declined to review a similar case, clearing the way for San Francisco to pay for homeless services with a citizen-proposed tax passed by a simple majority of voters. But the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which appealed both cases, isn’t backing down: It’s considering sponsoring yet another ballot measure that would require two-thirds of voters to approve any local tax increase, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
- Laura Dougherty, lawyer for the HJTA: “If politicians simply copy and paste a government tax proposal into a citizens’ initiative petition, they can dramatically reduce the voter approval needed to impose it.”