SAN FRANCISCO Nov 29 A top California Democrat
aims to ease requirements for voters to approve local taxes for
schools, a potential first test of the state's tax-limiting
Proposition 13 now that Democrats hold a supermajority in the
State Senator Mark Leno said on Thursday he would introduce
a bill on Monday for a constitutional amendment that would
reduce the threshold for approving school "parcel taxes" to 55
percent from two-thirds of voters set by Proposition 13, the
landmark 1978 voter-approved measure best known for limiting
The San Francisco Democrat's bill would apply to parcel
taxes, which are tax measures put on ballots by school
districts, community colleges and county offices of education.
If approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed by
Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, the bill would be put to a
statewide vote, said Leno, head of the state Senate's Budget
Many political analysts expect Democrats to use the
two-thirds' legislative supermajority they won in this month's
election to propose tax-related legislation. Republicans no
longer have the votes to block such bills.
Leno's bill should be taken seriously, said Jon Coupal, head
of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a California
He said the bill may soon develop into an early test of how
hard Democrats could push against Proposition 13, which some see
as the root of the state's fiscal problems because of the
constraints it imposes on tax hikes. Republicans have long
argued the state should simply restrain its spending.
"We hope there are a few moderate Democrats who see this is
a direct assault," Coupal said. He noted some Democrats were
urging moderation on tax bills after voters earlier this month
approved tax increases in a measure proposed by Brown.
California's budget has experienced massive deficits in
recent years as the state's economy fell on hard times that
slashed revenue. Spending cuts figured prominently in
budget-balancing efforts under Brown and his predecessor,
Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.