Local Tax Measures to be Overshadowed by Rival Tax Plans Competing w/ Guv’s Proposal?

It would appear that many initiatives will be vying for the attention of voters this November as the governor has not been able to swat away rival tax plans so that his initiative will have more prominence in the upcoming election. The fear is that if voters are asked multiple times to take a hit to their wallets, then they’ll just be more inclined to say no to everything, no matter how skillfully the initiative language is worded.

However, getting less attention is the impact that competing tax initiatives could have on local measures. Local governments could face a steeper uphill climb to pass local efforts on Election Day if more attention is paid to high-stakes rival tax plans that will be voted on statewide.

Many county officials are hoping for a little help in the revenue department with local measures that voters will weigh in on this November. For instance, Alameda County voters will decide the fate of a sales tax increase to fund transportation projects and Santa Cruz County is considering a ballot measure as well to fund road projects.

Mercury News reports on Santa Cruz’s perspective:

“Executive director [of the Regional Transportation Commission] George Dondero said the agency is aiming for a November vote, regardless of the governor's proposal. ‘That's something we'll have to deal with,’ Dondero said. ‘First we'll have to see if there's any (voter) interest whatsoever.’ Both the RTC and the county are struggling with rising road construction costs and flat revenues, especially from the state's gas tax, which hasn't been raised in 20 years. And if gas mileages continue to improve and drivers spend less filling the tank, the revenue problem will worsen.”

In general, voters are far more receptive to local tax measures, but as economic struggles continue, local officials may have to be concerned that their causes will be overshadowed by debate about the merit of state measures competing with the governor’s proposal. A breakdown on rival plans can be seen here.

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