Three Tax Initiatives Qualify – Will they be Placed Back to Back to Back on the Ballot?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Governor Jerry Brown’s income tax/sales tax increase measure, civil rights attorney Molly Munger’s income tax increases for schools, and hedge fund manager Tom Steyer’s tax increase aimed at multistate corporations all qualified for November’s election the same day. One political issue pundits have kicked around this initiative season is will the appearance of three tax increase measures on the ballot turn-off voters?

Another important question is: Will the measures appear on the ballot next to each other in numerical order? That could add to voters’ suspicion that all the political insiders want to do is tax them to death.

Traditionally, any measures put on the ballot by the legislature are the first ones that appear on the ballot. The measures that make the ballot by initiative or referendum then follow in ascending numerical order determined by the date that they qualified for the ballot.

If tradition holds, the three tax measures that qualified yesterday will appear one after the other on the November ballot.


One political attorney told me that there is no statute that requires the Secretary of State to use the order of qualification in listing the measures on the ballot.

Sacramento is always rife with political rumor and one I heard is that the governor’s office is making inquiries into how ballot measures are listed on the ballot.

Having the first or early position on a long ballot is beneficial.   Voters sometimes tire of making so many policy decisions and either give up marking their ballots or simply vote No on the remaining measures. Eight measures qualified for the ballot prior to the three tax initiatives that got the thumbs up yesterday. Voters would have to wade through a number of ballot proposals before they get to the tax initiatives.

In the case of the three tax increase measures, it may also be desirable for proponents to break them up – not have the tax proposals bunched together. With one tax measure following another, many individual tax revolts could occur right in voting booths across the state on election day.

So, let’s watch carefully to see if tradition holds. If the Secretary of State follows the pattern set long ago the three tax measures will appear back to back to back.

If they don’t, it is safe to assume some insider hanky-panky has taken place.

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