Bill Would Lower Threshold for Local Tax and Bond Measures

One California lawmaker is trying to make it easier for local governments to raise taxes.

Under a constitutional amendment proposed by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), a two-thirds supermajority would no longer be required for bond or special tax measures. Instead, tax hikes or bond measures for transit, water, parks and low-income housing projects could pass with just 55%.

"Local communities know their priorities best," says Aguiar-Curry. "This constitutional amendment will offer an important tool for local leaders to support projects and determine how to pay for them."

According to the assemblywoman, nearly 80% of measures put before local voters since 2001 that required a two-thirds supermajority garnered more than 55% but failed because of the lofty threshold. Critics say local economies and infrastructure suffer greatly as a result. A similar reduction of the voter approval threshold occurred for school bond measures in 2000. They now require sanction from 55% of voters.

Aguiar-Curry isn’t the only one trying to reduce voter approval requirements. Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has proposed a similar amendment that would apply only to transportation projects.