The Other, Other 2/3 Rule

While we are all concerned about the 2/3 rule for the budget, and, of course, the 2/3 rule for revenues. But what about that other, other 2/3 rule? The one for the ballot, that requires a 2/3 vote of the people for increases in revenue.

It’s a real pain too. In fact, that rule caused the defeat of two measures that were supported by over 60% of the electorate.  These were two parcel taxes that would have allowed the school districts to ave the jobs of teachers. Take Measure E in Redwood City for example:

In the midst of a deep economic recession, voters rejected Tuesday a parcel tax measure that would have helped the Redwood City School District weather cuts in state funding.

With all precincts reporting, Measure E had 62.1 percent of voters in favor of the tax compared to 37.9 percent opposed, short of the two-thirds approval it needed to pass, according to returns from Tuesday’s election. (SJ Merc 6/2/09)

You’re talking about 62.1% of the population wanting to do something, but some out-dated, ridiculous law blocks them from taxing themselves. The same thing happened in Pleasanton, where over 61% approved the parcel tax. At some point, the voters of California need to at least give themselves enough credit to decide something with a simple majority.  

How are we to govern under these rules? It simply isn’t possible for the people of California to constantly be fighting battles at these ridiculous thresholds. Would any sort of business operate like this? These are local taxes for crying out loud, yet the state constitution is once again blocking the will of the people. Not for some greater purpose, not for civil rights (looking at you, Prop 8), but simply because some organization thought they could screw up the state a little further.

Not only is the initiative system broken beyond repair, the entire constitution has got to go. It’s time to Repair California.

15 thoughts on “The Other, Other 2/3 Rule”

  1. for a simple majority to impose a rule requiring a 2/3 majority?  Won’t someone challenge this as a violation of due process, or equal protection, or of the constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government?  

  2. When I lived in El Cerrito in the 1990’s there was a year when four measures were on the ballot.  All got more than 65% of the vote, and all lost.  This is undemocratic and tyranny of a small minority.  

    And where but CA do we only vote by parcel, excluding those who do not own real estate, while giving others (who own multiple lots–think corporations) many, many votes.  I know, I know, it’s to protect property owners from having taxes raised by a vote of people who would not be affected by it.  So how far does that logic go?  Only people who own cars should be able to vote on a gas tax change?  How did voters who do not smoke get to vote on Prop 98?  

  3. It is simply unfair to impose highly progressive taxes on the land owning majority through the simple will of the majority (who themselves won’t be affected by the tax).  It’s a simple representation issue.

    The 2/3 rule protects the middle class from the tyranny of the non-taxpaying majority.

  4. why are we using parcel taxes at all? Parcel taxes – as opposed to ad valorem taxes – are intrinsically regressive.

  5. for the parcel tax measures to support the schools to send in their $99 anyway. It’s tax deductible, would be a huge morale boost for the teachers, and would be enormously helpful. We scratch and claw to provide a supply budget to each teacher of $500 or so – so even a handful of $99 donations makes a big positive difference.

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