Sun. May 19th, 2024

By Jon Coupal – May 10, 2024

Your Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has been fighting for taxpayers since 1978, and it’s no exaggeration to say this was one of the most important weeks in the history of our battle to keep taxes under control in California.

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the lawsuit filed by the governor and the legislature against our initiative, the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act. The lawsuit is attempting to remove this important measure from the November ballot before voters have the opportunity to pass it.

You can see news coverage of the case from KCRA 3 in Sacramento at this link: https://www.kcra.com/article/california-supreme-court-voters-tax-measure-november-ballot/60735527#

A video recording of the oral arguments, which ran about one hour, will be available soon on the Supreme Court’s website at this link: https://supreme.courts.ca.gov/case-information/oral-arguments/webcast-library

The briefs filed in the case, number S281977, Legislature v. Weber, can be found here: https://supreme.courts.ca.gov/case-information/briefs-argued-cases/may-8-and-9-2024-oral-argument-cases

To sum up the arguments:

The governor and legislature contend that the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act should be removed from the ballot before the election on the grounds that it is an impermissible “revision” of the state constitution that would “impair” the functioning of government by making it too hard to raise taxes.

But our attorney, Tom Hiltachk of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, answered those assertions with solid legal arguments defending the voters’ right to amend the constitution through the initiative process and to exercise more control over taxation.

Here’s what the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act would do:

Restore the two-thirds vote requirement to pass local taxes for a special purpose, reversing a court interpretation (California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland) that suggested the constitution does not apply to tax increases proposed by a “citizens’ initiative.”

Require transparency on ballot labels, so that a tax increase is clearly disclosed as a tax increase.

Hold elected officials accountable for fees and charges imposed by administrative agencies by requiring the approval of an elected body.

Ban the deceptive practice of phony “advisory votes” that appear to ask voters to allocate tax revenue to a specific purpose but in fact are completely non-binding.

Require voter approval of all state tax increases

Now you know why we think this is one of the most important weeks in the history of HJTA’s fight to protect taxpayers. The future of California will be affected by the outcome of this case. A decision is expected before June 27.

Jon Coupal is President of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

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