On Monday, the California Supreme Court decided a key case that will likely ensure a dramatic increase in the number of tax ballot initiatives. For years, Proposition 13 and Proposition 218 have required that local governments could not increase taxes, fees or assessments for specific purposes (e.g., roads and parks) without the approval of two-thirds of the local voters. This two-thirds requirement made it difficult, if not impossible, for local governments to successfully raise taxes to fund special projects.
However, Monday’s decision made a clear distinction between ballot measures put on by government, and those sponsored by “citizens”. As a result, well-funded special interest groups (of which there are many in California) will be able to not only place tax-raising ballot initiatives on the ballot, but the initiative will only need a bare majority to pass.