Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 20, 2024
California Supreme Court Blocks Anti-Tax Measure from November Ballot, Upholding Newsom and Legislature's Legal ChallengeSource: Google Street View

In a recent turn of events, the California Supreme Court has rendered a decision that disqualifies a hotly debated anti-tax measure from appearing on the November ballot, siding with arguments presented by Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic lawmakers, according to a report from CALmatters. This measure, backed by members of the business community and known as the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, sought to impose stricter requirements on tax increases in the state, and even obtained over a million signatures in a petition for its support.

However, in a unanimous decision, the court upheld the lawsuit put forth by Newsom and the Legislature last fall, which posited that this measure represented not just a simple amendment, but rather a potentially illegal and profound revision to the California Constitution that could disrupt core governmental functions. The measure further entangled matters by including a retroactive clause threatening to nullify existing taxes, as noted by Justice Goodwin Liu and contending that waiting until post-election to address its constitutionality would present more of a challenge than in typical cases, according to the San Francisco City Attorney's office.

The proposal's contentious nature had riled local governments, with San Francisco's city attorney David Chiu deeming the initiative a serious threat to basic service provisions, as mentioned in the statement where Chiu also expresses immense satisfaction with the court's decision to prevent the measure from making it to the November 2024 statewide ballot. Proponents of the initiative have expressed deep dissatisfaction with the ruling, as several leaders from the business community, such as Rob Lapsley, Jon Coupal, and Matthew Hargrove, jointly issued a statement via CALmatters, condemning the court's ruling as the greatest threat to democracy California has faced in recent memory, alleging it prioritizes politics over constitutional adherence.

Yet, opponents of the initiative, including various cities, counties, and unions, hailed the court's decision as a bulwark against the undermining of democracy and defended the citizens' voice. David Huerta, the president of SEIU California and SEIU United Service Workers West, offered a statement calling the act a blatant attempt by the wealthy to dodge their tax responsibilities while compromising essential Californian services. Dissimilar sentiment was echoed by Republicans, with Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones decrying the ruling as a symptom of California's one-party state and denouncing the court for its perceived surrender to gubernatorial and legislative Democratic pressure—this fraught sentiment came to light in his statement reported by CALmatters.

The aftermath of the court's decision brings into question the path forward for a competing measure placed by Democratic lawmakers on the November ballot, devised as a counter to the now-blocked initiative—it's a matter demanding resolution by June 27, with Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas yet to publicly state the Legislature's intent for this alternate measure, even though the Salinas Democrat expressed contentment with the Supreme Court's judgment in rejecting what he described as an unlawful extreme effort to strip power from local communities in ensuring funding for fundamental services, according to the CALmatters publication.