After years of slowly attacking and chipping away at Prop 13, California Democrats are moving in for the kill shot by placing two constitutional amendments on the ballot in 2024 to gut Prop 13 and make it easier to raise taxes in California.
In the final few hours of the legislative session, Democrats in the State Senate and Assembly voted by a slender margin to approve ACA-1 and ACA-13 (details below).
“With these votes to gut Prop 13, California Democrats have shown they do not care about the cost-of-living crisis that is hurting California working families and they are hell-bent on making things worse by raising taxes even higher,” says Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California.
Reform California had mounted an aggressive campaign to urge voters to call legislators to urge them to reject ACA-1 and ACA-13. Senator Richard Roth (D) admitted his office got 600 calls in one day alone – and legislative staff estimate tens of thousands of calls were received across all offices over a one-week period on this issue alone.
A few Democrats buckled to public outcry and flipped their votes, but in the end ACA-1 and ACA-13 squeaked by and will now be presented on the ballot to voters.
DeMaio said he expects the votes to gut Prop 13 would come back to haunt several Democrats in 2024 and beyond, but for now he’s focused on defeating ACA-1 and ACA-13 at the ballot box and passing the California Taxpayer Protection Initiative.
What Is Being Proposed to Gut Prop 13?
DeMaio says CA Democrats are pursuing a very clever strategy with ACA-1 and ACA-13 that is all part of their “total war to repeal Prop 13.”
For years CA Democrats have tried to outright repeal Prop 13 but voters have rejected those efforts. Then CA Democrats switched strategies and started the “death by a thousand cuts” approach by using court cases in front of liberal judges to open loopholes in Prop 13 to make it easier to raise taxes.
CA Democrats also discovered they could get around Prop 13’s public vote requirement on tax hikes by just outright lying to voters on the ballot by using false and misleading ballot titles on tax hike measures to confuse and deceive voters. The titles never mention that the measure is a tax hike, but only use titles that tout the benefits of the measure.
“If a ballot title fails to disclose that a measure is a tax hike, then you effectively eliminate the voter requirement for tax hikes that Prop 13 requires,” DeMaio notes.
That’s why a coalition of taxpayer advocates collected over 1.4 million signatures to force the California Taxpayer Protection Initiative (CTPI) on the 2024 ballot. The measure eliminates the loopholes CA Democrats have opened in Prop 13, restores the two-thirds vote requirement on special taxes, and mandates honest ballot titles that use the words “Tax Increase” when presenting measures that contain tax hikes in them.
“California Democrats know if the California Taxpayer Protection Initiative (CRPI) passes, the days of lying to voters to impose costly and unfair tax hikes in California will be over and that’s why they are using ACA-1 and ACA-13 to confuse voters and derail the effort to save Prop 13,” DeMaio explains.
Here’s what the three measures do:
Are you a bit confused right now? That’s exactly what the Democrats want. But it gets worse.
CA Democrats are sure to use dishonest ballot titles to present these three measures on the ballot. Here’s how Democrats may try to lie to voters with manipulative ballot titles:
What happens next?
While the California Taxpayer Protection Initiative is already scheduled for the November 2024 ballot, the question now is whether ACA-1 and ACA-13 will be on the March 2024 or November 2024 ballot. Sources say Governor Newsom wants the March 2024 ballot set aside exclusively for his raids ballot measure proposal on mental health funding to give developers subsidies. Decisions on ballot placement will be known in the next few weeks.
DeMaio says the next step is to organize the most aggressive grassroots campaign California has seen since Prop 13 passed in 1978.
“California Democrats have the liberal media and special interest money on their side – and they intend to lie to voters with manipulative ballot titles – but we have won battles like this before and can do it in 2024,” DeMaio notes. DeMaio points to the big win Reform California and others achieved in defeating Prop 15 in 2020 which – surprise – was the most recent Democrat attempt to overturn Prop 13.
“I need everyone to step forward today and join the fight so we can organize this campaign to protect Prop 13 early – we simply cannot wait until ballots drop next year to put together the volunteers, canvassers, ads, events, and coalition we’ll need to win this fight,” DeMaio implores.