The initiative to stop the state from raiding local government and transportation funds has qualified to appear on November’s ballot, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today.
Supporters of the “Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010” submitted more than 1.1 million signatures to ensure they would meet the 694,354 threshold necessary to qualify the measure.
“More than 1 million California voters signed the petition to stop State raids of local government and transportation funds,” League of California Cities Executive Director Chris McKenzie, a co-chair of Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, said in a news release. “We will now turn our attention to educating the voters to support this initiative to protect funding for the vital local services that they rely upon.”
The Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have taken about $5 billion in local government, transit and redevelopment funds in the 2009/10 budget cycle and billions more in past years, the initiative’s proponents say. In tandem with the economic recession, this has led to tough cutbacks in local police and fire services, parks, libraries, street repairs, public transit and other local services.
“Reduced revenues are putting a strain on front-line fire protection, emergency response and public safety services,” California Fire Chiefs Association President and Alameda County Fire Department Chief Sheldon Gilbert said in the proponents’ news release. “We must pass this measure to prevent future state actions that erode local public safety funding.”
The measure, if passed, would bar the state from borrowing local government property tax funds vital to public safety and other local services; from taking or borrowing the Highway User Tax on gasoline (HUTA), which now funds city, county and state road, highway, transit and other transportation improvements and services; from redirecting or diverting locally levied taxes such as parcel taxes, sales taxes, utility user taxes, Transit Occupancy Taxes (including taxes on hotel or motel rooms and rental cars), and others; and from taking, borrowing or redirecting Public Transportation Account (PTA) revenues dedicated to public transit. The measure also would add new constitutional protections to prevent the state from raiding redevelopment funds or shifting redevelopment funds to other state purposes.
“Cities and counties throughout California have been forced to make devastating cuts to law enforcement and other public safety services, due in part to state budgetary raids,” Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) President Ron Cottingham said in the news release. “On behalf of 62,000 public safety members, PORAC urges a YES vote on this initiative to protect public safety services by stopping state raids of local funds.”