Effort to Make Property Tax Increases Easier to Pass Falls Short in Assembly

A proposed constitutional amendment to make it easier for local governments to increase property taxes failed to secure enough votes to pass the Assembly this week.

The California Chamber of Commerce opposed ACA 1 (Aguiar-Curry; D-Winters), which would have asked voters to decide whether property tax increases for affordable housing and infrastructure could be approved by just a 55% vote instead of two-thirds.

In opposing ACA 1, the CalChamber pointed out that the proposal is overbroad because it provides the increased tax authority for every government agency in California, not just cities and counties.

If ACA 1 were approved, potentially thousands of overlapping special districts would gain the ability to increase property taxes. Moreover, ACA 1 undermines the protections of Proposition 13 and permits discrimination against certain classes of taxpayers.

Two-Thirds Vote Appropriate

For more than a century, two-thirds voter approval has been required for general obligation bonds. The debt obligations backed by the increased property tax ACA 1 seeks to allow often would be in place for as long as 30 years.

The stronger consensus among voters implicit in a two-thirds vote margin is appropriate given that taxpayers would be obligated to an increased tax rate for such a long period.

Increased Housing Costs

Although supporters of ACA 1 argued the measure is needed to support affordable housing in California, it actually will increase housing costs for millions of people.

The result of the increased tax authority for numerous special districts could be a single taxpayer being burdened with uncoordinated and ill-advised layering of new taxes from multiple special districts.

Thus ACA 1 could reduce even further the percentage of California households that can afford to buy an existing, median-priced home. A recent report from the California Association of Realtors puts that figure at 30%.

Key Vote

ACA 1 failed to pass on a vote of 44-20 on August 19. As a proposed constitutional amendment, ACA 1 needed approval by two-thirds of the Assembly.

Ayes: Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Berman (D-Palo Alto), Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Bonta (D-Oakland), Burke (D-Inglewood), Calderon (D-Whittier), Carrillo (D-Los Angeles), Chau (D-Monterey Park), Chiu (D-San Francisco), Chu (D-San Jose), Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Eggman (D-Stockton), Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), Friedman (D-Glendale), Gabriel (D-San Fernando Valley), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Gipson (D-Carson), Gloria (D-San Diego), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Gray (D-Merced), Grayson (D-Concord), Holden (D-Pasadena), Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), Kalra (D-San Jose), Levine (D-San Rafael), Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Low (D-Campbell), McCarty (D-Sacramento), Medina (D-Riverside), Mullin (D-South San Francisco), Nazarian (D-Van Nuys), Quirk (D-Hayward), Rendon (D-Lakewood), Reyes (D-San Bernardino), Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), Rodriguez (D-Pomona), Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), Ting (D-San Francisco), Weber (D-San Diego), Wicks (D-Oakland), Wood (D-Santa Rosa).

Noes: Bigelow (R-O’Neals), Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas), Brough (R-Dana Point), Cervantes (D-Corona), Chen (R-Yorba Linda), Choi (R-Irvine), Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Diep (R-Westminster), Fong (R-Bakersfield), Gallagher (R-Nicolaus), Kiley (R-Roseville), Lackey (R-Palmdale), Mathis (R-Visalia), Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake), Patterson (R-Fresno), Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach), Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Voepel (R-Santee).

No vote recorded: Arambula (D-Fresno), Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), Daly (D-Anaheim), Flora (R-Ripon), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles), Maienschein (D-San Diego), Mayes (R-Yucca Valley), Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), Ramos (D-Highland), Salas (D-Bakersfield), Smith (D-Santa Clarita), Waldron (R-Escondido).

Staff Contact: Sarah Boot

Sarah Boot
Sarah R. Boot served as a CalChamber policy advocate from March 2018 to December 2019. She specialized in privacy/technology, telecommunications, economic development, and taxation issues. Before joining CalChamber, Boot was a top adviser to now-Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins, serving as the senator’s legislative director and as lead staffer on legal, privacy, telecommunications, business, and technology issues, among many others. Boot also was principal consultant to Atkins during her time as Assembly Speaker and Speaker Emeritus. For three years, Boot was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of California. She prosecuted a broad array of federal crimes, including bank robbery, sex trafficking of minors, and narcotics trafficking. In private practice, Boot spent three years litigating complex civil and intellectual property litigation, primarily representing Internet and technology companies. Boot earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She graduated from the University of Michigan with an honors degree in political science and a minor in Spanish.