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Lawmakers Look to Lower Voter Threshold on Transportation Projects

With Measure J recently failing with 66 percent of voter support, lawmakers look to lower the voter threshold for transportation projects to 55 percent.

Many have speculated as to how a Democratic supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature will affect taxpayers. 

One action recently called into question was a proposed constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) that would lower the amount of votes needed to pass measures that fund transportation projects.

It currently takes two-thirds of voters to approve new taxes, raise existing taxes or extend the time a tax is collected, which is why Measure J failed recently with 66 percent of voters backing it. Proposition 13 set the two-thirds precedent in 1978 and Liu would like to bring that threshold down to 55 percent.

What do you think? Should the California Constitution be amended to lower the voter threshold from two thirds to 55 percent? Should Proposition 13 be altered to remove protections levied on commercial property owners? 

The Long Beach Press-Telegram looked at Governor Jerry Brown's proposed budget and suggested that overspending could force legislators to look to the longstanding Proposition 13 for extra tax money. The referendum was designed to protect property owners from increased property taxes and required two-thirds of voters to impose special taxes (like those for local transportation projects). Commercial property owners were included in that provision and enjoy the same protections.

One possibility for altering Proposition 13 could include a "split roll," which would leave the protections for homeowners in place and would either allow for the reassessment of commercial property value more frequently or raise the rate of assessment, political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe told KCET.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa supported both Measure J and the removal of Prop 13 commercial property protections.            

Those against a Proposition 13 split roll say that increasing taxes levied on commercial property would drive business out of the state.  

Shay Pierson January 22, 2013 at 05:07 PM
I believe it would be an injustice for lawmakers to change the rules when they don't get what they want. Maybe they need to reevalutate why the tax didn't pass. Califonians don't need or want more taxes.

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