Former Gov. Brown Joins Newsom and Dems In Opposition to Voter Approval on Tax Increases

Democrats are throwing everything they have to stop the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

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Photo: ca.gov


Former Governor Jerry Brown joined current Governor Gavin Newsom in opposition to the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act ballot measure in November that, if approved by voters, would give voters final approval on future taxes and fees imposed by state and local governments.

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The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, also known as “the Taxpayer Protection Act,” was developed as a ballot measure in 2021 by a group of California homeowners, taxpayers, and businesses. According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), the measure would amend the state constitution do the following if passed:

  • Require all new taxes passed by the Legislature to be approved by voters
  • Restore two-thirds voter approval for all new local special tax increases
  • Clearly define what is a tax or fee
  • Require truthful descriptions of new tax proposals
  • Hold politicians accountable by requiring them to clearly identify how revenue will be spent before any tax or fee is enacted
  •  New taxes and fees imposed starting in 2022 unless approved by voters will be canceled within a year of the act going into effect

Throughout late 2021, signature gathering commenced, with the goal of getting at least 1.4 million signatures to have enough be valid for the just under 1 million needed to go on the ballot. Many California officials, initially unconcerned and doubtful that such a measure would get enough signatures were shocked when the Secretary of State’s office announced in early 2022 that 1,075,585 valid signatures had been gathered, more than enough to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

State and local officials and lawmakers quickly went on the offensive, labeling the Act as “threatening voter rights” and “going against local services.” Some, including the League of California Cities, even tried to paint the measure as nothing more as a way for corporations and businesses to get out of paying some taxes.

“This deceptive initiative would undermine the rights of local voters and their elected officials to make decisions on critical local services that residents rely upon,” said California State Association of Counties Executive Director Graham Knaus. “It creates major new tax loopholes at the expense of residents and will weaken our local services and communities.”

However, polls found that a majority of Californian voters actually liked the measure, with many saying that the Taxpayer Protection Act would do as the name of the act said and would give them more say in what taxes are moved forward.

“The Taxpayer Protection Act was written to restore a series of voter-approved ballot measures that gave taxpayers, not politicians, more say over when and how new tax revenue is raised,” explained HJTA President Jon Coupal. “Over the past decade, the California courts have created massive loopholes and confusion in long-established tax law and policy. The Taxpayer Protection Act closes those loopholes and provides new safeguards to increase accountability and transparency over how politicians spend our tax dollars.”

A California Supreme Court petition

Faced with the Act actually passing, opponents switched to a new tactic in 2023: Going to the state Supreme Court and having it removed from the ballot. Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic state legislators sent a petition to the California Supreme Court, urging them to remove the measure from the November 2024 ballot because of it infringing on the rights of lawmakers to institute taxes and it being an unlawful California constitution revision.

The initiative’s changes would infringe on lawmakers’ constitutional powers to impose state taxes. It would also illegally shift power from the governor to lawmakers by requiring charges now considered fees to be approved as taxes by the Legislature,” said the petition. “Such far-reaching changes to the foundational powers of the government would amount to an unlawful constitutional revision. Pre-election review is therefore necessary because the measure cannot lawfully be enacted through the initiative process.”

In December, the Court agreed to hear the case, with a final decision if the measure will go on the 2024 ballot likely to come in the next several months.

“As we said when the case was filed, this radical effort led by wealthy business interests impermissibly seeks to completely restructure our system of government in a way that will hobble the state’s ability to respond to future crises,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office added in a statement. “We are pleased the Court decided to hear this important case.”

Despite the matter now being in the State Supreme Court, popularity of the measure amongst voters only grew. Large groups, such as the Los Angeles Taxpayers Association came out in support of the measure, putting lawmakers in Sacramento even more on edge.

“Over and over again, California taxpayers have made it abundantly clear they want control over their government and how much they are taxed,” said Coupal in December. “I think all of these attacks are reflective of one thing and one thing only, is that if the Taxpayer Protection Act is on the ballot, it will pass. It’s extraordinarily popular.”

This led to this week when opponents of the measure decided to add more big names this week. Governor Jerry Brown, who led the state from 1975 to 1983 and again from 2011 to 2019, joined Newsom and Democratic state legislators, with he and his team petitioning against the measure. While most of the reasons given were the same, Brown also added in climate change worries into the reasons against the measure from appearing on the ballot.

The proposed ballot measure would deprive the Legislature of its power to tax by requiring a majority of voters to approve any tax increase,” said Brown’s lawyer David Goodwin to the court. “And by requiring every tax increase to identify the programs on which the money would be spent, the initiative would make it much harder to raise funds for general state needs or emergencies.”

Brown specifically warned that the passage of the measure would decimate the Cap and Trade program set up during his 2010’s term as Governor.

“The ballot measure would largely eliminate the ability of state agencies to regulate environmental pollution by imposing charges or cap-and-trade requirements on polluters and would remove the power of the Legislature to enforce state climate change policy,” Brown said. “Cap-and-trade funds have been used to restore wetlands and watersheds, fund light rail and the state’s bullet train and promote zero-emission motor vehicles.”

“Under the initiative, Oakland would be forced to stop collecting money on behalf of the libraries unless Oakland holds another election in which the voters re-approve the library tax. In the meantime, library funding would be interrupted, libraries would close, and one of the most important civic services provided to the children of Oakland would be disrupted if not eliminated.”

Brown out against the measure

However, even with Brown now on board, many experts are unsure if it will be enough to convince the Supreme Court to pull the measure from the ballot only nine months out from the election.

“Democrats are throwing everything they have to stop this, because they know that if it passes, people will likely not want money going towards what they are trying to push,” Dana, a Capitol staffer told the Globe on Friday. “This measure has been in the background for a long time, but slowly becoming more and more into focus. Look at how much Newsom and everyone have been slowly ratcheting up their pushes against it. You don’t petition the California Supreme Court unless you are worried. And if they are bringing in high profile people like Brown, then yeah, they know that this is likely going to be voted on in November.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Comments

  1. Dems today:
    Well, we tried that “Capitalism” thing … really, we gave it our best shot! Just couldn’t get it to work. Homelessness, crime, unequal outcomes … no, we just have to move over to !00% gov’t control.

    Unstated: Freedom worked for decades and decades till Dems started chipping away at freedom and started building a system where they could use gov’t to reward their cronies.

  2. The democrats will spend a lot of money on billboards and TV ads telling the public that if this is passed, then they won’t have any money to pay for essential government services — similar to the old “Republicans want to starve your grandmother” plan. This is a highly effective ploy with our largely ignorant population who are utterly incapable of thinking for themselves about any issue. The only chance that this HJTA-supported measure has if someone will pour a LOT of money into TV and billboard ads directly countering what the dumocrats will dish out, flushing out the lies.
    It would be a miracle if California voted for the HJTA-supported ballot measure. Let’s pray…

  3. Robin Itzler - Patriot Neighbors says

    Is anyone surprised that Democrats want the sole power to raise taxes, raise more taxes and then raises even more taxes???

  4. Tired of the Bull CRAP! says

    They want your money, your homes, your mind, your freedom!!!!
    Wake up California – take back your lives before it’s tooooooo late.

  5. Edward Ring says

    This has NOTHING to do with “wealthy business interests.” The largest corporations welcome more taxes and regulations because they just pass those costs on to their customers, AND, more to the point, these burdensome taxes and fees make it much harder for smaller competitors to rise up and compete with them.

    One of the biggest lies the Democrats in California sell to voters is that big business and billionaires are backing Republicans. It is transparently false.

    Politically connected businesses, many of them either part of oligopolies or well on their way to that, back Democrats because Democrats get it: make it impossible to do business and only the monopolies survive. Monopolies can jack up prices and consumers have no alternative and must pay. Then the businesses pay higher taxes to the government but at the same time have gained control of the market and made record profits.

    You can see this in industry after industry. The Democrats come in with regulations and taxes, smaller businesses fail, big businesses grow, the consumer pays more, and government gets more money.

  6. The ‘Taxpayer Protection Act’ MUST be approved by voters!

    The State is bankrupt already.

    Also, the ‘Measure 1’ on the March Primary MUST BE DEFEATED. We can’t afford that.

    Besides, throwing $$% at the homeless has been shown NOT TO WORK.

  7. The FASCISTS NAZI democrats are public enemy number 1. Their goal, LIMIT FREE SPEECH, THEN GO AFTER YOUR GUNS, THIRD.. ONLY THE PEOPLE THEY WANT TO RUN CAN RUN FOR OFFICE. THE DEMOCRATS ARE A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. ,THEY ARE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR BY COMMUNISTS CHINA…CIVIL WAR IS COMING…..

  8. This will fail and go the same route as prop 13. Starve the ASSWIPES of Money

  9. The ‘Howard Jarvis Prop 13’ act, the communist fascist racist satanic dems said it was ‘threatening voter rights” and “going against local services.” And now we want even MORE say in OUR government from the “Taxpayer Protection Act” and all they CONTINUE to say is…..same old, same old………. it’s ‘threatening voter rights” and “going against local services.” When are you leftie MORONS going to wake up and make KOMMIE-fornia GREAT AGAIN!!! I hear another Civil War abrewing…..by the dem party that caused the last Civil War!!!

  10. The wisdom of the voters generally supersedes the actions of the government. This protection act needs to be passed. Parts that end up being other than what the people say needs to be fixed CAN be fixed.

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