Proposition 30 passed in California last week, and that provides schools the funds required not to cut-back any further. But, as I’ve previously posted, the biggest electoral news in our state is that it appears that the Democrats are gaining a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature. That surprise can result in beginning the move from the present two-thirds vote requirement for an increase in local parcel taxes from schools that are related to programs down to a fifty-five percent requirement (local communities now have a 55% requirement for tax increases related to school facilities).
As Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters wrote this morning:
…Democrats are empowered to place constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot without any Republican support and legislative leaders – Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, particularly – want to reduce the vote requirements for local government and school district taxes, particularly those parcel taxes.
If schools could raise more money locally through parcel taxes, it would reduce the state budget’s school finance burden.
Twenty-five school parcel tax measures were on the ballot last week and 15 of them passed, including three in the $200-per-parcel neighborhood. And all but one of those that failed achieved more than 50 percent approval, indicating that were the vote requirement to be reduced, parcel taxes could generate a substantial flow of revenue.
Democratic leaders want to use their new power incrementally, rather than frontally, and making parcel taxes easier to enact is high on their agenda.
That’s great news. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle article today made the same point. However, it also injected a dose of realism about a timeline for such a move:
And while the two-thirds threshold is secured in the state Senate, two Democratic senators will be resigning their offices because they won seats in Congress, and there will be special elections to fill them.
Both are in Democratic areas, so other Democrats probably will win, though it could be several months before there are enough lawmakers seated at the Capitol to exercise the supermajority power.
If a member of the Assembly runs for one of those seats and wins, it would create the need for another special election and further delay the seating of a supermajority. Assembly Speaker John Pérez said the longest the musical chairs would take to be over would be next fall.
So that means the change might not be on the ballot until the Spring of 2014. And then, local tax increases probably won’t be able to be on the ballot until that fall.
Well, at least with Prop. 30 in the bag, we shouldn’t be getting any further cuts between now and then.