Government Finance and Operations 12/09/2011
ACA 4 (Blumenfield) – Support
As Introduced on December 6, 2010
A month remains before the Legislature returns to Sacramento to begin the second year of their two-year legislative session. Several bills that did not make it through the process last year are likely to see some action in the first part of 2012. ACA 4 is one of those bills.
ACA 4, by Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield, would amend the California Constitution to allow counties and other local agencies to raise taxes to pay for public infrastructure and public safety facilities. Under the measure, local voters could increase the tax rate they pay on their real property to pay for public improvements such as roads, sewers, and parks, and to provide public safety facilities for sheriffs, police, and firefighters.
Counties have little useful revenue authority under current law, and study after study shows the need for significant investment in state and local infrastructure. The property tax is the revenue source that makes the most sense for paying off infrastructure bonds because it is stable and gives investors confidence. That is why counties’ current revenue authority, which rests with limited sales and use taxes, utilities, and hotel taxes, and are only applicable in unincorporated areas, are insufficient.
Likewise, property values are directly connected to, among other things, transportation infrastructure, local parks, and sewer and water services. Such improvements also lay the foundation necessary for commerce, an increase in which can itself further raise property values. In the end, all of these decisions are up to voters, a supermajority of whom must agree to a higher rate. The bill does not obligate voters in areas who think their taxes high enough and their infrastructure sufficient to utilize its provisions.
ACA 4 is currently on the Inactive File on the Assembly Floor, where it will require two-thirds approval to move to the Senate. Counties should review ACA 4 and contact the author’s office with any questions or comments about the measure, or to share their support.