State Senator Loni Hancock today introduced a proposed state constitutional amendment to let a simple majority of the Legislature place tax measures on the ballot for passage by a simple majority of voters.
Hancock, D-Berkeley, says her SCA 15, which she’s calling “The Taxpayer Right to Vote Act,” wouldn’t replace the existing two-thirds requirement to pass taxes, but rather would create an alternative to it: a “double majority” in which both lawmakers and the public weigh in.
“This is a common-sense proposal to help break the gridlock that is still gripping Sacramento,” Hancock said in her news release. “We spent the past six months in fruitless negotiations with Republicans that went nowhere. Now, many of the public institutions that once made our state great and provided opportunities for our citizens are in grave jeopardy. Voters should have the right to decide if they want to pay for teachers in the classroom and police on the streets.”
Hancock said the need to provide revenue “for vital services that are important to the well-being of Californians” shouldn’t be held hostage by a legislative minority that’s unwilling to compromise and “blinded by narrow ideological agendas.”
She framed this as another reform measure aimed at making state government more responsive to the people, a natural follow-up to Proposition 25’s creation of a majority-vote budget process. “It simply creates a viable alternative to legislative gridlock.”
I’ve left a message for Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal and will update this item as soon as I’ve heard back from him…
UPDATE @ 3:39 P.M.: “This is called the ‘Legislature Screws the Taxpayers Act of 2012?’ ” Coupal asked with a laugh. “When the voters passed Prop. 25, they were told over and over and over again, ‘This does not affect the two-thirds vote for taxes. Anyone who does not believe there was a long-term agenda here is deceiving themselves.”
If this makes it onto next year’s ballot, voters would “beat this thing like a drum,” Coupal added. “The voters just rejected the last eight statewide tax proposals that appeared on the ballot… so the voters are very negative on tax increases and they will see this for what it really is: a power grab by the Legislature.”