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Legal Debate Over Who Can Raise California Taxes

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Sacramento, CA — A proposed California ballot measure in November would require all tax increases to be approved by 2/3 of the voting public.

It is authored by groups like the California Business Roundtable in an effort to rein in government spending. Currently, state lawmakers can raise taxes with a 2/3 vote of the Senate and Assembly. The measure would require an additional step of voters giving final approval before an increase can be implemented.

In addition, it would make it more difficult for local citizen initiatives to raise taxes. Right now, a special tax can be passed for a city or county with just a simple majority vote of the public, but the new law would require a 2/3 majority.

A lawsuit filed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the legislature, and the Chair of the California Democratic Party, is asking for the court to remove the measure from the ballot. They argue that it would eliminate the legislative and executive branch regulatory power and taxing authority. Their legal argument is that it would create a fundamental change in the structure of government and require a revision to the state’s Constitution, which first needs a vote of a legislature.

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments today and rule before June 27.

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