Government Finance and Operations 08/23/2013
SCA 4 (Liu) – Support
As Amended on May 21, 2013
SCA 8 (Corbett) – Support
As Amended on May 21, 2013
SCA 4, by Senator Carol Liu, and SCA 8, by Senator Ellen Corbett would reduce the vote threshold to 55 percent, from two-thirds, for special taxes for local transportation projects, thereby allowing communities to self-determine the level of revenues they want.
As a matter of long-standing policy, CSAC supports these measures and others that would reduce the vote threshold from the current 2/3 supermajority requirement. We encourage the Legislature to consider all of these measures in a broad discussion about what is appropriate to be placed before the voters in 2014. That discussion should consider the needs and desires of local communities, as well as providing counties the flexibility to pursue special taxes in either the entire county or only in the unincorporated areas.
The Senate Transportation and Housing Committee is scheduled to hear these measures at its hearing next Tuesday, August 27.
SB 360 (Padilla) – Support
As Amended on August 6, 2013
SB 360, by Senator Alex Padilla, would make various changes to the law to allow a county to devise and test a nonproprietary voting system.
Among the specific changes the bill would make are those that would allow the Secretary of State to conditionally approve a voting system, allow a county to use public funds to develop such a system, and create a process to set the conditions for a pilot program to test the system.
While none of these changes alone represent a revolution in the way elections are run, together they create the opportunity for Los Angeles County to pursue what is frankly a very exciting advance in the administration of elections. Once their system is developed, there is a strong possibility that other counties who are interested could work with LA to implement the system there as well. We urge the Legislature to make these changes so that the effort already underway can continue to move forward.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed SB 360 and its hearing last Wednesday, August 21. The bill now moves to the Assembly Floor.
Utility User Taxes
AB 300 (Perea) – Support in Concept
As Amended on July 10, 2013
AB 300, by Assembly Member Henry Perea, would create a point-of-sale system for collecting state and local charges—including utility user taxes—on prepaid wireless services.
Local agencies that impose a utility user tax on wireless communication are seeing this revenue source slowly fall, despite the ever-increasing number of cell phone subscribers. One reason for this decline in revenue is the increasing popularity of prepaid, non-contract payment plans. Once associated primarily with users who had bad credit, prepaid wireless plans are becoming a more widespread service model. Due to this business model change, and because counties do not currently collect applicable taxes from prepaid wireless consumers, counties support the development of a system that captures the taxes that are owed on this activity.
We appreciate the many hours of complicated discussion that the bill’s proponents have engaged in with us to include local charges in the bill’s provisions. In this spirit of cooperation, we continue to work with the bill’s proponents on some details related to a seller’s duties under the bill, which is the only reason for withholding our unqualified support.
The Senate Governance and Finance Committee, which held a similar bill at the end of last year, passed AB 300 at its hearing on Wednesday, August 21. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Sales and Use Taxes
AB 781 (Bocanegra) – Support
As Amended on August 12, 2013
AB 781, by Assembly Member Raul Bocanegra, would make it generally illegal to use, own, install, or sell an automated sales suppression device.
The sorts of devices targeted by this bill automatically hide actual sales levels from auditors, cheating both consumers and the public while unjustly enriching tax scofflaws. When unscrupulous Californians skirt their tax responsibilities, the burden of funding public services falls more heavily on those who follow the law.
By prohibiting the sale and installation of sales suppression devices, not only their ownership and use, the bill would make it easier for the Board of Equalization to reduce their use.
The bill awaits a vote on the Senate Floor. If it passes, it will return to the Assembly for concurrence.