Developer-backed Sacramento County transportation $8.5 billion sales tax increase qualifies for November Ballot

Proponents for a countywide sales tax increase announced yesterday their ballot measure has qualified for the November Sacramento County ballot by Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections.

The measure is sponsored by a group calling themselves A Committee for a Better Sacramento (ACBS) and is seeking a 40-year one-half-cent countywide sales tax increase. If approved, the measure forecasts $8.5 billion in revenues over its lifetime. 

Proceeds will fund various Sacramento road improvement and construction projects, most notably the Southeast Connector. That road will connect Highway 99 in Elk Grove and U.S Highway 50 in El Dorado Hills, opening up rural southeast Sacramento County to development. 

California Alliance for Jobs (CAJ) Executive Director Michael Quigley will be directing the campaign seeking voter support. Along with funding from CAJ, the ACBS is receiving substantial funding from Cordova Hills Development Corporations and Angelo T. Tsakopoulos and Affiliated Entities.  

"The campaign will ensure that voters understand the initiative's robust benefits, improving road safety, expanding transit access, better air quality, and job creation," Quigley said." We believe this will result in high levels of support at the ballot as voters learn about the transportation investments that will come to Sacramento as a result of passage."

According to the most recent disclosure filed with the California Secretary of State, Quigley's group raised $1.4 million for the six months ending December 31, 2021. At that time, they had $4.4 million cash on hand. 

The multi-jurisdictional Sacramento Transit Agency has long pursued the half-cent sales tax. However, an initiative they placed on the ballot in 2016 failed, and in 2020 the STA board decided against pursuing a similar sales tax increase. 

Standing in the way of the STA was a requirement that it needed a two-thirds super majority for approval. The 2016 Measure B fell short by less than one percent, and because of acrimony on the 2020 STA board of directors, it was decided not to place a sales tax measure on the ballot. 

However, this year's approval will come with a simple majority. Several judicial rulings have lowered the threshold for a sales tax increase when it is a voter's initiative and not sponsored by a governmental entity.

Further enhancing their efforts, the California Business Roundtable will not pursue an initiative they called the Taxpayer Protection Plan on the November ballot. That measure sought to require tax increases to be approved by a two-thirds majority retroactive to January 1, 2022.  

The text of the initiative can be viewed here

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