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California Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Tax Measure

Posted On: June 21, 2024

In Legislature of the State of California v. Weber, the California Supreme Court in a unanimous decision recently struck down as unconstitutional an anti-tax ballot measure that would have had a devastating impact on the State and local governments’ ability to raise funds. As a result of this ruling, the measure will not be placed before the voters in the upcoming election this November. The Court determined that the challenged measure would result in “far reaching changes in the nature of our basic governmental plan” under the Constitution. Thus, these changes cannot be made by voter initiative, but must follow the rigorous procedures in the Constitution that apply to “revis[ing]” the Constitution. These procedures require that first a supermajority of the Legislature approve a constitutional revision before the revision is put before a constitutional convention where delegates, chosen by the electorate, must approve the change. You can find a copy of the Opinion here.

If passed, this measure would have revised the California Constitution to require both a simple majority vote of the electorate and a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Legislature to pass a state tax increase. The initiative would have been retroactive, too. Any existing taxes that did not meet the above requirements for passage would have been rescinded. Simply stated, this ballot measure would have dramatically limited the State’s and local governments’ ability to raise revenue, which would have had a domino effect on local public agencies. It would have caused severe, detrimental harm to public sector finances, putting at risk billions of dollars currently dedicated to critical state and local services, including police, fire, public health, parks, libraries, affordable housing, services to support homeless residents, mental health services, and more. It would also have caused cuts to funding for critical infrastructure, e.g. transportation, water, schools, sanitation, utilities, and more. Thus, these cuts would have gravely affected public sector employees’ salaries, benefits and other working conditions.

On behalf of various labor unions, Messing Adam & Jasmine filed a legal brief in support of the lawsuit against the measure. We believe that this contribution to the fight made a difference. And, we are very pleased that the Supreme Court came to the correct conclusion and stopped the measure from being placed before the voters in the next election.

If you have any questions about this alert, please contact Matthew Taylor in our Sacramento office.

© Messing Adam & Jasmine LLP