Oops, they did it again.
Proponents have submitted a third attempt at a ballot initiative to create a “split roll,” hiking property taxes by up to $11 billion.
This latest version presumably won’t restart the clock, since it amends a month-old measure already being reviewed by the Attorney General and Legislative Analyst.
But the changes aren’t trivial. Most important, the new language would siphon off tens of millions of dollars to support the crushing implementation obligations on state and local governments. Counties state agencies must hire hundreds of new bureaucrats – tax collectors, appraisers, hearing officers, accountants and lawyers – to support the burdensome obligations newly delivered to state and local officials.
Tens of millions of dollars that will be intercepted before they can be used to hire any new school teachers, police officers or firefighters.
But wait, there’s more.
The measure requires that the State use general taxes to pay for the massive start-up costs to implement this tax hike, in advance of the first dollar to roll in from the new taxes. Even though local governments and schools will be the beneficiaries, money dedicated to state education, law enforcement and safety net programs must subsidize the hiring of new local tax collectors.
And if California were to suffer a recession after this measure passes? Doesn’t matter: proponents have given constitutional protection to these new lawyers, accountants and tax collectors – shielding the General Fund subsidies from any cuts that all other state programs would be subject to.
Even after making a third pass at getting it right, proponents have not abandoned Split Roll 1.0. Though twice-demeaned and found wanting by its own creators, the measure lingers in the ballot cue as a hedge against their inability to qualify version 3.0.
I can’t be the only one curious as to how proponents can justify keeping a ballot measure primed for a statewide vote after admitting and admitting again its inadequacies.