California Farm Bureau rallies members for 2024 tax fight – Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

California Farm Bureau rallies members for 2024 tax fight

The California Farm Bureau has joined a broad business coalition backing a ballot measure that seeks to protect Californians from unwarranted tax increases. The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act targets “hidden taxes” on agriculture in the form of fees, defends property tax limits and sets a higher bar for passing special taxes from local governments.

The initiative has qualified for the November 2024 ballot but faces headwinds from Democrats in the Legislature, who recently passed a measure to override it. Gov. Gavin Newsom has also stepped into the foray, partnering with California Attorney General Rob Bonta to file a lawsuit seeking to throw it out.

At its annual meeting last week, the farm bureau urged members to get involved and donate. The coalition estimates it needs to raise up to $80 million to pass the measure.

To proponents, the measure does not block new tax increases but creates more accountability and transparency.

“[The act] gives you the right to vote on all future tax increases,” said Steven Fenaroli, who directs political affairs at the farm bureau. “This is about making sure that farmers and ranchers continue to have their voices heard and that we don’t let unelected bureaucrats continue to raise taxes and fees on us.”

Fenaroli pointed out that California has the highest personal income and sales taxes and the trend is continuing, with the Legislature proposing more than $200 billion in new fees and taxes this year, though Newsom vetoed many of those measures out of fiscal concerns. Fenaroli also channeled the frustration of farmers who have for years pleaded with the State Water Resources Control Board to not raise fees further. He went on to list local fees for implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and the cost for burn permits from local air districts.

Ben Granholm, a senior account executive at the political affairs firm Swing Strategies, lambasted a steady stream of gas tax increases approved every July, arguing the public is not involved until the referendum happens and that although the increases have raised $5 billion in revenue, the state still has the worst roads in the nation.

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