Protect Prop. 13

Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom Team Up Against Voters – Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom Team Up Against Voters

California’s Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act gives voters the final approval on future taxes and fees imposed by state and local governments. The measure gathered nearly one million signatures and has qualified for the November 5 ballot. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former governor Jerry Brown want the state supreme court to take the measure off the ballot, and it’s easy to see why.

The Act requires voter approval for all new taxes passed by the legislature and two-thirds voter approval for all new special tax increases. The Act also requires clear definitions of what is a tax or a fee, along with truthful descriptions of new tax proposals. Before any tax or fee is enacted, politicians must clearly outline how the revenues would be spent, and so on.

Gov. Newsom contends that the measure is a constitutional revision, rather than a constitutional amendment, and would “effectively block the state’s ability to quickly respond to major challenges.” Proponents of the measure called the “revision” argument weak and in an amicus brief, Republicans decried a “blatantly undemocratic attempt to disenfranchise voters by removing a voter-qualified initiative from the ballot.” The battle has now been joined by former governor Jerry Brown, who at age 85 needs some updating. (READ MORE from Lloyd Billingsley: Biden, Buttigieg, and Bullet Trains)

In 1974, Gov. Brown showcased his “simple lifestyle” credentials by rejecting the new governor’s mansion and moving into an apartment near the state Capitol. In 2015, Brown returned to the refurbished original governor’s mansion. After four terms in office, with a net worth of an estimated $12 million, Brown occupies a 2,500-acre estate in Colusa County.

Brown’s January 31 amicus brief makes the same argument as Gov. Newsom, that the measure is a constitutional revision rather than an amendment, basically a distinction without a difference. Surprisingly, the former governor mentions the 1978 Proposition 13, the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, which limited property tax increases and required a two-thirds vote of the legislature to increase non-property taxes.

The state supreme court ruled that Proposition 13 “was both modest and does not change our basic governmental plan.” According to Brown, a Yale law alum, the Taxpayer Protection and Accountability Act, “turns our governmental plan inside out,” and more. The measure “echoes a 1950s film noir in which a police officer tells a crowd, ‘there’s nothing to see, move along,’ when the police officer in fact is standing in front of a corpse — in this instance (to apply the metaphor to the facts), the corpse of our State Government.” That is hard to top, but the former governor wasn’t done.

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