Today, The Committee to Protect Our Communities, a coalition of local governments, working families, labor groups, concerned individuals and business groups, opened their committee to oppose the “Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act,” a misleading named and dangerous initiative sponsored by the American Beverage Association (ABA) and the California Business Roundtable. Proponents are currently gathering signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot.
“Libraries, parks, medical emergency response, garbage and sewer, police, fire, streets and roads. These are the essential services that would be devastated by this proposed measure that puts corporate interests over the needs of local communities and our residents. Interfering with our cities’ ability to raise revenues to pay for local services is a far overreach that will hurt California’s quality of life for generations to come,” said Carolyn Coleman, Chair of the Committee to Protect our Communities and Executive Director of the League of California Cities.
“While proponents argue that this initiative is about giving more control to taxpayers, make no mistake about it, this is an attempt by Big Soda to end local ballot fights, and rig the rules to make it much harder to pass local soda taxes as well as other corporate offset fees,” remarked Alma Hernandez, Treasurer of the Committee to Protect our Communities and Executive Director of SEIU California which represents over 700,000 working people across California.
To date, the American Beverage Association has dumped $4.1 million dollars
into the committee in support of the initiative – well over 80% of the money raised so far by the proponents.
The ABA is accustomed to dropping big dollars to defeat local measures that would place a tax on sugary beverages. The ABA spent over $25 million in 2016 alone, fighting local California soda tax measures that were designed to offset costs for local health care, help fight childhood obesity and diabetes, and fund other critical local services.
Joining the opposition coalition are a number of widely respected organizations, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, California (AFSCME), the California Professional Firefighters (CPF), and the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC).
“This measure will restrict a local community’s ability to provide important services, improve public safety, repair aging infrastructure, and maintain public parks by allowing a small minority to create gridlock and defeat the will of the majority,” stated Lou Paulson, President of the California Firefighters.
The “Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act” would drastically limit local revenue authority. In part, it eliminates local authority to impose a tax for general purposes by majority vote and instead requires all local proposed tax increases subject to a two-thirds vote. This proposal also requires two-thirds approval of all members of the local legislative body before a tax can be placed on the ballot. It also requires that a tax contained in a regulation adopted by a state agency must be approved by two-third vote of the Legislature. For cities and other local agencies, it applies retroactively and may void some local measures approved by local voters on or after January 1, 2018.
Proponents have until June 28th to qualify their initiative for the ballot.
Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.