Sacramento-Proposed Change To Prop 13 Would Allow Sales Tax Hikes On Majority (Not 2/3) Vote If It's For Transportation Projects & Services and "Smart Growth Planning"
CA Senate Constitutional Amendment Committee OK's It On 3-2 Party Line Vote
In February, LB Sen. Betty Karnette Voted For It In Senate Transportation Committee
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Ass'n Calls Proposal "A Direct Assault on Prop. 13"
SCA text (as of March 12, 2003)
We post proposed text and legislative analysis
(March 13, 2003) -- A Sacramento-written proposed state constitutional amendment that would create another exception to Prop 13's requirement of 2/3 voter approval to raise taxes -- by permitting sales tax increases approved by a simple majority (50% + 1) for "transportation projects and services and 'smart growth planning'" -- has cleared the state Senate's Constitutional Amendment Committee.
As described in the Legislative Counsel's Digest, the measure would "authorize a county, a city and county, a local transportation authority, or a regional transportation agency, as defined, with the approval of a majority of its voters voting on the proposition, to impose a special tax for the privilege of selling tangible personal property at retail that it is otherwise authorized to impose, if the tax is imposed exclusively to fund transportation projects and services and smart growth planning, as defined."
The measure defines so-called "smart growth planning" to mean "land use planning programs
that conserve open space, reduce air pollution, and provide housing in close proximity to population and employment centers."
The 3-2 vote on March 12 came on party lines, with three Senate Democrats (including Debra Bowen, whose southbay district includes part of LB) voting to advance the measure.
In February, LB area Democrat Senator Betty Karnette voted to advance the measure when it came before the Senate's Transportation Committee.
In the public interest, LBReport.com posts the currently proposed text of SCA 2 below as well as the Senate Constitutional Amendment Committee's legislative analysis, below.
The proposed constitutional amendment would require majority voter approval. The legislature has the power to put a proposed Constitutional Amendment on the statewide ballot without collecting signatures; Democrats hold majorities in both the CA Senate and Assembly.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association strongly opposes SCA 2, which it calls a "direct assault on Proposition 13."
If SCA 2 were put on the ballot and enacted in its current form (as the strikeouts below show, it's already undergone some legislative amendments), it would go further than a previous voter-enacted amendment to Prop 13...which permits property tax increases with 55% voter approval for school related purposes.
BILL NUMBER: SCA 2 AMENDED
AMENDED IN SENATE FEBRUARY 20, 2003
INTRODUCED BY Senator Torlakson
DECEMBER 2, 2002
Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 2--A resolution to propose to
the people of the State of California an amendment to the
Constitution of the State, by adding Section 16 to Article XI
thereof, by amending Section 4 of Article XIII A thereof, by amending
Section 2 of Article XIII C thereof, and by amending Section 3 of
Article XIII D thereof, relating to local development.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
SCA 2, as amended, Torlakson. Local government: sales taxes:
transportation and smart growth planning.
The California Constitution conditions the imposition of a special
tax by a city, county, or special district upon the approval of 2/3
of the voters of the city, county, or special district voting on that
tax, and prohibits these entities from imposing an ad valorem tax on
real property or a transactions or sales tax on the sale of real
This measure would authorize a
city, a county,
a city and county, a local transportation authority, or a
regional transportation agency, as defined, with the approval of a
majority of its voters voting on the proposition, to impose a special
tax for the privilege of selling tangible personal property at
retail that it is otherwise authorized to impose, if the tax is
imposed exclusively to fund transportation projects and services and
smart growth planning, as defined.
Vote: 2/3. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.
WHEREAS, Adequate transportation infrastructure and services are
critical to California's prosperity as well as the travel, business,
and recreational needs of all Californians; and
WHEREAS, California's continued growth will increase the strain on
the state's transportation infrastructure, which is already
overburdened and inadequately funded to meet current and future
WHEREAS, The California Transportation Commission reported in
1999, pursuant to Senate Resolution 8, that California faces more
than $110 billion in unmet transportation infrastructure needs; and
WHEREAS, California's inadequate transportation system has
worsened traffic congestion, increased commute times, slowed delivery
of goods and services, and increased costs for businesses; and
WHEREAS, Eighteen counties in California representing over 80
percent of the population have enacted local countywide
transportation sales tax measures by a majority vote to fund
critically needed highway and public transit needs, the funding from
which represents about one-half of all new capital invested in new
facilities in the past decade in our state; and
WHEREAS, Counties have clearly demonstrated their ability to
manage and spend these funds efficiently and effectively to operate
and maintain public transit, build high-priority transportation
projects, rehabilitate and improve the local street and road network,
and accomplish other goals for improving the transportation system;
WHEREAS, In order to ensure that California will be able to meet
its current and future transportation and land use planning needs and
thereby preserve and enhance the prosperity and daily activities of
all Californians, it is necessary to place before the voters this
measure to provide the opportunity for voters to choose for
themselves the creation of an additional funding source that is
dedicated exclusively to the funding of California's local
transportation requirements, is administered by cities,
counties counties, cities and counties, local
transportation authorities , and regional transportation
agencies, and is directly responsive to local transportation needs;
WHEREAS, To prepare for and manage the pressures, related to
transportation issues, of continued growth in California, local,
regional, and state government authorities have developed "smart
growth" policies to better connect housing opportunities with
employment centers, reduce commute times, discourage urban sprawl,
encourage infill development, and achieve other goals that increase
the quality of life for all Californians; and
WHEREAS, More than 300 California organizations have called upon
California officials to follow smart growth principles in addressing
California's future growth and development, including all of the
(a) Planning for the future by making government more responsive,
effective, and accountable through reforming the system of land use
planning and public finance.
(b) Promoting prosperous and livable communities by making
existing communities vital and healthy places for all residents to
live, work, obtain an education, and raise a family.
(c) Providing better housing and transportation opportunities by
developing efficient transportation alternatives and a range of
housing choices affordable to all residents without jeopardizing
farmland, open space, and wildlife habitat.
(d) Conserving green space and the natural environment by focusing
new development in areas planned for growth, while protecting air
and water quality and providing green space for recreation, water
recharge, and wildlife.
(e) Protecting California's agricultural and forest lands by
shielding California's farm, range, and forest lands from sprawl and
the pressure to convert farmland to development; now, therefore, be
Resolved by the Senate, the Assembly concurring, That the
Legislature of the State of California at its 2003-04 Regular Session
commencing on the second day of December 2002, two-thirds of the
membership of each house concurring, hereby proposes to the people of
the State of California that the Constitution of the State be
amended as follows:
First--That Section 16 is added to Article XI thereof, to read:
SEC. 16. (a) A city, a county, a city and
county, a local transportation authority, or a regional
transportation agency may, with the approval of a majority of those
voters of the jurisdiction voting on the proposition, impose a
special tax upon the privilege of selling tangible personal property
at retail within that jurisdiction, if both of the following
conditions are met:
(1) The tax is imposed exclusively for the purpose of funding
transportation projects and services and related smart growth
(2) The city, county, city and county,
or the local transportation authority, or
regional transportation agency is otherwise authorized by law to
impose a new tax in the form of a special tax upon the privilege of
selling one or more classes of tangible personal property at retail
within its jurisdiction.
(b) At least 25 percent of the revenues derived from any tax
imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be used for the purpose of
funding smart growth planning.
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) "Local transportation authority" means an authority
designated pursuant to Division 19 (commencing with Section 180000)
of the Public Utilities Code.
(2) "Regional transportation agency" means all of the
(A) The Metropolitan Transportation Commission created by Section
66502 of the Government Code, as that statute read on January 1,
(B) The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority,
or any successor to that authority.
(C) The Orange County Transportation Authority.
(D) Any local or regional transportation entity that is designated
by statute as a regional transportation agency.
(3) "Funding of transportation projects and services"
includes the servicing of indebtedness issued for the purpose of
funding those transportation projects and services.
(4) "Smart growth planning" means land use planning programs
that conserve open space, reduce air pollution, and provide housing
in close proximity to population and employment centers.
Second--That Section 4 of Article XIII A thereof is amended to
Sec. 4. Except as provided by Section 16 of Article XI,
a city, county, or special district, by a two-thirds vote of its
voters voting on the proposition, may impose a special tax within
that city, county, or special district, except an ad valorem tax on
real property or a transactions tax or sales tax on the sale of real
property within that city, county, or special district.
Third--That Section 2 of Article XIII C thereof is amended to read:
SEC. 2. Notwithstanding any other provision of this
(a) Any tax imposed by any local government is either a general
tax or a special tax. A special purpose district or agency,
including a school district, has no authority to levy a general tax.
(b) No local government may impose, extend, or increase any
general tax unless and until that tax is submitted to the electorate
and approved by a majority vote. A general tax is not deemed to have
been increased if it is imposed at a rate not higher than the
maximum rate so approved. The election required by this subdivision
shall be consolidated with a regularly scheduled general election for
members of the governing body of the local government, except in
cases of emergency declared by a unanimous vote of the governing
(c) Any general tax imposed, extended, or increased, without voter
approval, by any local government on or after January 1, 1995, and
prior to the effective date of this article, may continue to be
imposed only if that general tax is approved by a majority vote of
the voters voting in an election on the issue of the imposition,
which election shall be held no later than November 6, 1996, and in
compliance with subdivision (b).
(d) Except as provided by Section 16 of Article XI, a local
government may not impose, extend, or increase any special tax unless
and until that tax is submitted to the electorate and approved by a
two-thirds vote. A special tax is not deemed to have been increased
if it is imposed at a rate not higher than the maximum rate so
Fourth--That Section 3 of Article XIII D thereof is amended to
SEC. 3. (a) An agency may not assess a tax, assessment, fee,
or charge upon any parcel of property or upon any person as an
incident of property ownership except:
(1) The ad valorem property tax imposed pursuant to Article XIII
and Article XIII A.
(2) Any special tax receiving a two-thirds vote pursuant to
Section 4 of Article XIII A or Section 2 of Article XIII C, or, as
applicable, a majority vote pursuant to Section 16 of Article XI.
(3) Assessments as provided by this article.
(4) Fees or charges for property related services as provided by
(b) For purposes of this article, fees for the provision of
electrical or gas service are not deemed charges or fees imposed as
an incident of property ownership.