Californians Reject New Taxes and Borrowing

The preliminary election returns reported on March 4th – the day after the election, and the day when we used to get final returns – indicate that California’s voters delivered a stunning rejection of new taxes and borrowing. It’s about time.

At the state level, Prop.13 which would have authorized $15 billion in general obligation bonds for schools and colleges, required a simple majority for approval. But as of March 9th the “yes” votes only stood at 45.6 percent. This is unprecedented. As reported by Cal Matters, “since 1998 voters have passed five state school bonds, including a $9 billion measure in 2016 that Gov. Jerry Brown opposed.”

While Prop. 13’s likely failure is surprising enough, the dismal fate of hundreds of local bond and tax proposals indicates a broader shift in California’s electorate. One state school bond may fail for various reasons, but that’s only one data point. On the other hand, California had 121 local school bonds on the March 3 ballot. The returns on March 4th had 86 of them falling short of the 55 percent threshold necessary for passage, nearly 70 percent. That’s a lot of data points.

Local taxes didn’t do much better. Of the 111 local tax measures proposed, voters as of March 4 were rejecting 65 of them, or nearly 60 percent. The table depicted below uses data compiled by CalTax as of March 4th. It shows that local school bonds, had all of them been accepted by voters, would have […] Read More