California Supreme Court will hear arguments to remove tax initiative from ballot; Cover for Elk Grove's Measure E?

In a setback for taxpayer advocates this week, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments to remove an initiative from the November 2024 ballot. The request came from several Democratic legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The arguments center on the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act (TPA). If approved next November, the tax measure would require voter approval for any increase in state or local taxes or fees.

The justices denied the request to remove the measure from the ballot. However, they instructed proponents to justify why the measure should be put before voters.

TPA proponents, which include the California Business Roundtable, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and the California Business Properties Association, gathered the required signatures to qualify for the ballot. Opponents argue it would revise the California constitution.  

In their statement released following the Supreme Court's decision, the proponents said, "The Taxpayer Protection Act is the latest step by voters to rein in out-of-control taxes and spending and hold politicians accountable. Today's decision by the California Supreme Court threatens the voters' constitutional right to act as a check and balance for the governor and Legislature.

Typically, the California Supreme Court only intervenes in ballot measures once they are approved by voters and then challenged. Notably, courts overturned 1994's controversial Proposition 187.

The measure would require a two-thirds majority of voter approval for all increases if approved. Significantly, the measure would be retroactive to 2022.

For Elk Grove, it means if the TPA survives judicial review, is kept on the ballot, and is approved next year, 2022's Measure E would be negated. The consumer sales tax increase was pushed by Democratic Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen and two of her current city councilmen, Republican Vice Mayor Kevin Spease and Democrat Darren Suen. 

Approved by 54 percent of Elk Grove voters, the measure is forecast to generate $23 million annually. The tax is effective in perpetuity. 

Legislature of the State of California et al. v. Weber, Case No. S281977.

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