CA Constitutional Amendment 11

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2013 California Senate Constitutional Amendment 11 (SCA11)

  Replaces the 35 year law, Prop 13,
 (which legislates that any Proposition to create a SPECIAL TAX or BOND can only pass with a 2/3 majority
 -- with a 55% majority requirement, only.

That is PROPERTY TAXES can be raised with Propositions that only pass with a 55% majority ( instead of 2/3).

See also the same Bills but for TRANSPORTATION SPECIAL TAXES, only, SCA4 and SCA8

  Prior to the adoption of Proposition 13,
California's raging inflation had sent property tax bills soaring so high that many families had to sell their homes because they could not afford to pay their taxes.

These Bills along with SCA 1,2,3,5,6,7,9,10 (for specific types of funding) 
ALL lower the 2/3 majority requirement to 55% 
and have passed Committee stage already..
What is to prevent landless voters from soaking property owners for Sales or Property Taxes or Bonds 
to pay all their local government's bills? 
( and a Sales Tax disproportionately punishes the poor).
Recently, local governments have shown some success in winning two-thirds voter supermajorities 
to pay special taxes for services that voters demand. 
To reach that threshold, they have had to spell out in meticulous detail 
how they will spend their money, 
and the discipline that requirement has imposed on government 
can only be described as a benefit.

For 35 years the Supermajority requirement has stood California well when:

  • funding dubious Rail Transportation Projects (ie. SMART)
  • starting a public power agency, or selling a public power agency
  • raising taxes to balance the budget.
  • Proposition 42, persuaded voters to require that taxes on motor vehicles be spent on transportation,
    unless two-thirds of the Legislature votes to suspend or modify
  • In 2004, local governments won a rule that protects much of their funding
    unless two-thirds of the Legislature says otherwise
  • fostering transparent and open debate about the potential benefits or risks of a project,
  • reducing the likelihood that one generation of voters will pass along ill-considered,
    crippling financial obligations to subsequent generations.

The Constitution of the United States was not a simple majority of the states but required 9 of 13.
Furthermore the Bill of Rights was added to insure that no simple majority of any group of citizens could deny rights to an individual.

The 2/3rd requirement became contentious because the US Supreme Court eliminated the ability of states to have an upper house
 that was not proportionally represented in the 1960s.
 If you think about it, what protections other than the “supermajority” rules protected minority rights in California
 or any state at all in the last fifty years?

We have County Supervisors and state Senators representing more Californians than even a Congressman
and no effective check on that power other than the 2/3 law.

Federal Supermajority requirements:

  • the approval of constitutional amendments,
  • conviction in an impeachment trial,
  • ratification of treaties and
  • the override of a presidential veto.
  • Senate with Filibuster or Veto....
2012 Measure B1 Transportation Commission Sales Tax Measure  Alameda County 2/3 Approval Required 
Fail: 350899 / 66.53% Yes votes ...... 176504 / 33.47% No votes
  • It would have put control of transportation decisions in the hands of Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) who will use their taxing authority and resources to fund inefficient, expensive, and underutilized public transportation systems at the expense of automobile drivers.
  • Car use under this plan would have been discouraged because it competes with public transportation. Increasing the costs of driving is intended to reduce the number of people who can afford to own and drive a car, forcing many to use public transportation.
  • ACTC would have had the power to force citizens to assume responsibility for up to $1B in bond debt which will ultimately lead to requests for higher sales taxes and parcel taxes. Many residents would pay more than a 10% sales tax on everything they buy, a percentage that will only increase over time.
  • Cities would have been coerced into developing high density housing in mixed use developments near transit centers. Cities that do not comply could have lost Measure B dollars yet their citizens will still be paying the sales tax.