Phil Matier: California May Lift Limits On Local Tax Increases

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – A bill making its way through the state Senate would let counties and school districts put local tax measures up for a popular vote.

The legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate’s Governance and Finance Committee allows local governments to propose a variety of temporary taxes to fund education and public safety.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier says lawmakers see local income taxes, vehicle license fee surcharges, alcohol and cigarette taxes, even oil extraction taxes, as an end run around legislative gridlock.

“The idea is if the state won’t pony up, especially Republicans won’t come to the table and put those taxes on the ballot, then we’ll create this patchwork all through the state,” Matier said.

KCBS And Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

Even if the law clears both houses, the failure of several East Bay parcel taxes in a mail-in special election this week shows that voters may not always be willing to tax themselves for a good cause.

Voters generally support school district parcel taxes, though the two-thirds majority required to enact them makes the campaigns expensive and uncertain.

Local tax measures could face similarly costly campaigns.

Matier said the Democrats’ goal with the legislation is to send a clear message that tax measures the GOP refuses to consider in Sacramento could instead be fought in battles big and small all over the state.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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