Phil Matier: New Push To Trim Majority Needed To Raise Taxes

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – It’s long been the talk of Sacramento – and beyond – but now it appears the State of California may be closer than ever before to adjusting the percentage of support needed to approve sales tax measures on California ballots, from two-thirds of the vote to just 55%.

According to published reports, one of the Bay Area’s strongest transportation advocates is throwing his support behind the concept; and asking his colleagues to do the same. Steve Heminger, Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, has drafted a memo to the Commission pointing out that the Democrats’ “super majority” in both houses in the State Capitol make it a particularly opportune time to back efforts to do so.

Sen. Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, has formally proposed the constitutional amendment. If it gets the green light from the State Legislature, it would go before voters throughout California in 2014.

Heminger has been quoted as saying the “hurdle” of a two-third majority to pass transportation taxes has exacerbated state and federal funding shortfalls that keep transportation projects like the widening of freeways and upgrading the BART system from happening.

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