A Late Bargaining Chip and Other Capitol Thoughts

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily


History is not on the side of Assembly Republicans who want to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to protect the two-thirds vote for special taxes following the California Supreme Court case announced this week that may have eviscerated that taxpayer protection. Too bad for outgoing minority leader Chad Mayes that the court case didn’t come down a week or so earlier.

The Republicans are trying to buttress Proposition 218 taxpayer protections, which voters passed in 1996. The court decided the Proposition 218 tax limitations applied to local governments but not to citizen initiatives.

But it would be interesting to contemplate had the court ruling come down a couple of weeks earlier what Governor Brown and the Democratic legislative leaders would have done if the constitutional amendment proposed yesterday by Mayes and others was the bargaining chip to get Republican votes for the cap-and-trade extension instead of the measure to allow for a two-thirds vote—there’s that number again—on cap-and-trade spending years from now. It might have saved Chad Mayes’ leadership post.

The Proposition 218 ballot measure came about only after a number of frustrating attempts to have the legislature deal with the benefit assessment law. Taxpayers were suffering from an expansion of the use of that law to collect a form of property taxes without an honest mechanism to resist. The legislature opposed any proposals to lift the taxpayers’ burden.

The thinking of the legislative majority on taxpayer voting protections hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years meaning huge hurdles for the proposed constitutional amendment. 

Who’s Counting? Capitol Weekly presented its annual list of the 100 most powerful non-elected folks involved in state government and of the first 20 on the list, 6 were connected to labor unions with only 2 directly representing business. That’s as a good a yardstick as any on where the power is in the state’s capitol.

The Horse Race. The media is endlessly fascinated with political races and when discussing the hotly contested governor’s race, the temperature is turned up a notch. When Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said he hasn’t ruled out a run for governor it became instant news. Stories then brought up other potential gubernatorial candidates who have not jumped into the race like environmentalist and hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer and senate president pro-tem Kevin de Leon. I’m afraid I can’t add to the news. The last time I saw the senator I asked him if were running for governor or president. He was noncommittal—with a smile.

A Bad Bet. It would be news if a poll produced a result that was contrary to what the poll sponsor hoped for but such a poll wouldn’t become public. The new California Nurses Association poll reveals that Speaker Anthony Rendon may be in trouble in his own district because he temporarily derailed the single payer health care plan. Don’t buy stock in that idea. A bet on the L.A. Rams winning the Super Bowl would be safer.

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