June 20, 2024

HJTA President Jon Coupal’s statement on the CA Supreme Court decision removing our initiative from the ballot

California Supreme Court yields to Newsom and Legislature, removes Taxpayer Protection Act from November ballot

We were shocked and angered by the California Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday in Legislature v. Weber, the outrageous lawsuit filed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders. The lawsuit asked the court to order the removal of our duly qualified initiative, the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, from the November ballot in order to prevent voters from passing it.

The seven justices of the Supreme Court yielded to the wishes of the political branches, handing them the victory they sought over the will and the rights of 1.4 million California voters who signed petitions to qualify the TPA initiative for the ballot, as well as the tens of millions of Californians who would have benefited from its protections.

The court put politics ahead of the state Constitution. It is now obvious that all three branches of California’s government — executive, legislative and judiciary — believe the government may decide how much money it needs and raise taxes accordingly, and the voters may not constrain them.

Defying legal precedents and plain common sense, the court declared that the Taxpayer Protection Act was an impermissible “revision” of the state constitution, beyond the power of the voters to enact. Revisions, the court said, may only be enacted through a constitutional convention that is called by the legislature itself.

Since 1911, Californians have had three powers of direct democracy as a check on the power of the government: the initiative, the referendum and the recall. Now the court has effectively declared that the people’s power to amend the constitution through initiative is subject to the approval of the government.

This dangerous decision would likely have prevented Proposition 13 from passing in 1978. It’s the clear intent of the state government to block voters from limiting tax increases at all. In addition to this outrageous ruling, the legislature has placed a constitutional amendment proposal on the November ballot, ACA 13, which selectively sets a higher vote threshold to pass certain constitutional amendments. It applies only to initiatives like Prop. 13, those that set a higher vote threshold to pass tax increases.

What’s more, the legislature has also put ACA 1 on the November ballot to make it easier to raise taxes, cutting the vote threshold for approval from the current 66.7% for special taxes and local bond debt down to just 55%. Loopholes the courts have carved into Prop. 13 (which the TPA would have closed) have already reduced the threshold for passing many local taxes down to 50%-plus-one-vote.

We will be fighting ACA 1 and ACA 13 with all our strength this fall. At the same time, we will be fighting to protect Proposition 13 from another attack by special interests that is planned for 2026.

This is not a drill. This is a firebell in the night.

If you are not already a member of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, now is the moment to join. If you are able to support our efforts financially, your donation to HJTA and to the Protect Prop. 13 campaign committee have never been more important. We are in a war to save Proposition 13 so Californians are not taxed out of their homes and businesses. With your help, we will defeat ACA 1 and ACA 13 and come back even stronger in 2026 to fight for the security of California families.

Thank you.

Jon Coupal, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

***************************************18 Taxpayer Groups File Amicus Brief in Support of Taxpayer Protection Act.

January 31, 2024

A coalition of 18 taxpayer groups from across the state filed an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court, urging the Court to allow voters to vote on the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act (TPA), a ballot initiative that would require voter approval for any new state or local tax increases in California.

The TPA, which qualified for the November 2024 ballot with more than 1.4 million signatures, is facing a legal challenge from Governor Newsom, the Legislature and Senator John Burton. They claim that the initiative is actually revision of the state constitution, which requires different procedures. This is a blatant attempt to disenfranchise voters and silence their voices.

The amicus brief argues that the TPA is a valid exercise of the people’s right to initiative and referendum, which is enshrined in the California Constitution and recognized by the U.S. Constitution. The brief also contends that the TPA does not alter the structure or framework of the state government, but rather imposes a reasonable and popular check on the legislature’s power to impose taxes.

The brief cites several examples of how the TPA would protect taxpayers from excessive and wasteful taxation, such as preventing the legislature from imposing a wealth tax, a sales tax on services, or a carbon tax without voter consent. The brief also points out that the TPA would restore the two-thirds voter approval threshold for local special taxes, which was effectively lowered to a simple majority by a recent state Supreme Court decision.

The 18 Taxpayer groups and others that joined the amicus brief are:

Alameda County Taxpayers’ Association, California Taxpayer Protection Committee, Central Valley Taxpayers Association, Chico Taxpayers Association, Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers (Marin County), Gold Country Taxpayers Association, Los Angeles County Taxpayers Association, Orange County Taxpayers Association, Placer County Taxpayers Association, Reform California, Sacramento Taxpayers Association, San Francisco Taxpayers Association, Silicon Valley Taxpayers’ Association, Solano County Taxpayers Association, Sutter Yuba Taxpayers Association, Ventura County Taxpayers Association, the Red Brennan Group and Moving Oxnard Forward.

The amicus brief was filed by attorney Jason A Bezis of the   Law Offices of Jason A. Bezis, located in Lafayette, California.

This lawsuit is not only an assault on the will of the people, but also a threat to the fiscal health and stability of the state. If the Governor’s lawsuit succeeds, it will open the door for higher taxes, more debt, and less accountability. That is why we urge you to support the TPA initiative and oppose the lawsuit. Join us in defending our voice and our vote in the tax policy of California.

***************************************Vote No on Measure A; Measure B; Measure C – There are bad for Benicia

January 19, 2024

On March 5, 2024, Benicia voters will face three ballot measures that will have a significant impact on their wallet. These measures are not the solution, but rather the problem.

 The Solano County Taxpayers Association (SCTA) a 63-year-old organization, representing the taxpayers of the county, with members throughout Solano County filed arguments against all those three Measures.

SCTA urges Benicia voters, before they vote, to read the arguments against the measures when they receive their Voters Information Guide.

SCTA recommends Benicians to vote NO on Measure A; Measure B;  Measure C.  They are bad for Benicia.

Here is why you should vote NO on all three measures:

Measure A is a transient occupancy tax (hotel tax) increase from 12% to 15%. It will make Benicia less attractive for visitors and travelers, who will choose to stay in nearby cities with lower tax rates. This will reduce the revenue and jobs generated by Benicia’s hospitality industry, which is vital for the economy and culture. Measure A is a short-sighted tax that will make Benicia less welcoming and less prosperous.

Measure B is a three-quarters-of-a-cent sales tax increase that will last for 12 years. You told them NO in 2022 when 51% of the voters voted down Measure R. Did they hear you? Apparently, NOT.  Measure B  will raise the sales tax rate in Benicia from  8.375% to 9.125%, making it the second highest, after Vallejo, in Solano County. Benicia will be number 369 out of 544 cities and counties paying the highest sales tax in the state of California! This will hurt local businesses, especially small and independent ones, and drive away customers and tourists. It will also burden residents, especially low-income and senior citizens, who will have to pay more for everyday goods and services. Measure B is a regressive tax that will make Benicia less affordable and less competitive.

Measure C is a $122.5 million school bond measure that will extend 30+ years the old bond approved by voters in 1997, which is set to expire in 2026. The School District’s statement that “Measure C will NOT increase taxes” is misleading.  What they don’t tell you is that Measure C is a new bond. It is replacing the 1997 bonds that will be paid off in the next few years. If the 1997 bonds are paid off, then you do not have to pay that debt anymore, thus your taxes will go down.  But here comes Measure C which extends your tax payments for another 30+ years! If Measure C passes you will be paying approximately $60 per $100,000 of the assessed value of your home until 2058! It will cost you a lot more money since the 1997 was assessed at the value of your home in 1997. Home prices have  skyrocketed since 1997. You will be assessed a lot more money than you did in 1997. Yes, you will be paying a lot more money if Measure C passes.  

Also, just look at the first five words of the ballot: “To improve the quality of education.”  Who can be against that? It then goes on to list potential projects which are about the same projects as bonds issued in the recent past. They may or may not do those projects. But what they WILL do is raise your taxes, which really is the nature of the measure.

 The 2014 Benicia School Bond measure which was approved by the voters was supposed to be used for “major renovations and upgrades to school facilities, with the aim of bringing them up to current standards and providing equity among district schools.”  The 2014 bonds were estimated to cost you an additional $39 per $100,000 of assessed valuation of your home!

Obviously, the School District is not telling you the truth. If Measure C passes, you will be paying the new bond debt of approximately $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation of your home until 2058!! Your children will be paying the taxes that you vote for it today.

That’s why we urge you to Vote No on Measure A; Measure B; Measure C on March 5, 2024. There are bad for Benicia.