Government Finance and Operations 08/30/2013
SCA 4 (Liu) – Support if Amended
As Amended on August 28, 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 passed both measures at its hearing on Tuesday, August 27.
On Wednesday, August 28, Senator Liu amended SCA 4 to include two new requirements. First, that half of all money raised be used for programs or purposes included in a sustainable communities strategy (SB 375), or, if the local government is not included in a sustainable communities strategy, then for the programs or purposes authorized by law to be included in such a strategy.
The other amendment would require a local government that uses any of the tax proceeds to expand the state highway system to dedicate funds for the ongoing maintenance of that project.
The two requirements place unnecessary restrictions on communities that choose to tax themselves for a higher level of service, and should not be included in a measure put before the voters.
SB 740 (Padilla) – Support
As Amended on August 7, 2013
SB 740, by Senator Alex Padilla, would improve the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) by broadening eligibility for some funds and increasing the overall funding level.
Ideally, the improved program would not single out local governmental agencies for special restrictions, but the increased funding authorization for the program—an additional $90 million—to support last mile projects where they are most needed is critical for the rural counties and overrides concerns about those restrictions.
The increased program authorization, which will continue to be funded by a fractional percent on the state’s telecommunication services, will help provide the infrastructure that will allow some of the state’s hardest to reach residents to enjoy the economic benefits of broadband services, which the rest of us have taken for granted for years.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee let SB 740 off its Suspense File earlier today, August 30. The bill now moves to the Assembly Floor.
Steinberg) – Support
As Amended on August 5, 2013
SB 1, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would create a structure for continuing economic development activities consistent with the state’s sustainable development goals.
The foundation of CSAC’s support is allowing counties a clear option whether or not to financially participate in tax increment financing for economic development purposes. An approach that encourages collaboration between counties and cities will best serve Californians. This approach allows counties control over their own general funds, and also necessitates discussions about what kinds of development benefits the community as a whole.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee let SB 1 of its Suspense File earlier today, August 30. The bill now moves to the Assembly Floor.
Utility Users Tax
AB 300 (Perea) – Support
As Amended on August 22, 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.
The Senate Appropriations Committee let AB 300 off its Suspense File earlier today, August 30. The bill now moves to the Senate Floor.