CSAC Bulletin Article

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 Would Ease Access to Funding for Local Infrastructure and Affordable Housing

March 14, 2019

Infrastructure is a local government paradox.

On the one hand, it is the most visible daily sign of government to many citizens as they drive on local roads, drink water from their taps, and visit their local libraries and hospitals (hopefully one more than the other). On the other hand, the long-term nature of infrastructure means that residents rarely have to consider the costs of building or replacing it, so infrastructure funding is often out of sight, out of mind. And when counties or other local agencies do ask voters for permission to sell bonds to pay for infrastructure, more than two out of three voters need to agree for the measure to pass.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 1, by Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry, herself a former local official, would ask voters to change the two-thirds vote threshold by requiring only a 55 percent vote for approval of local bonds and the special taxes that repay them. This would bring the vote threshold for counties and other local agencies to the same level that school bond measures have enjoyed since 2000. State bond measures only require a simple majority to pass.

Local control has always been one of counties’ chief advocacy principles. When communities have control over their services and revenues, they can choose the level of services they want from their government and the right level of revenue to provide those services, which is why lowering the two-thirds vote threshold has long been a staple of the county platform. Requiring a 55 percent supermajority would still require overwhelming support from local votes, giving them control over how their tax dollars are spent.

CSAC supports ACA 1 and urges counties to send support letters to the author, Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry, and to their local legislative delegation.

If passed by the Legislature, ACA 1 would then go to voters for their consideration in 2020.

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