Calif. high court to weigh-in on tax hike limiting ballot measure

A tax measure that would raise thresholds for tax hikes and require voter approval on new state and local taxes could get yanked off the November ballot.

The California Supreme Court this week will hear arguments centering on a November 2024 ballot measure that seeks to vastly pare back the power of state lawmakers to raise taxes.

The state’s high court will hear a suit levied by the state Legislature to block the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.”


The big picture: The initiative would require voters sign off on all new tax increases at the state and local level, reclassify many fees as taxes (requiring voter approval), and subject tax increases enacted since 2022 to higher thresholds for approval and continued collection.

  • Locally, the measure would raise the threshold for citizen-led special tax measures – which currently need 50 percent plus one vote to be enacted – to a two-thirds majority. The new threshold would also retroactively apply to measures approved dating back to 2022.

The debate beyond the courtroom: Proponents argue the measure would rein in state spending and make California more business-friendly, while opponents, including Gov. Newsom and public labor leaders, argue it would restrict the government’s ability to provide essential services.

    • Former state lawmakers fear the measure would impair the legislature’s ability to approve a balanced budget and harm essential services.

    The legal issues: The measure’s backers argue that the ballot measure is a simple amendment to the state constitution, while opponents claim it’s too broad and would constitute a constitutional revision, a power that is expressly reserved for the state Legislature.

    • There are separate, broader concerns about the precedent that would be set if the court removes the measure from the ballot and whether it would impact the balance of power between parties.
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