Gavin Newsom Scores Tax Win in California

gavin newsom scores tax win in california

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a bill signing ceremony at Nido's Backyard Mexican Restaurant on February 09, 2022 in San Francisco, California. The Supreme Court unanimously blocked the act from appearing on ballots.

The California Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously stepped in to remove a measure from the November ballot that would have made it more difficult to raise taxes, providing a win for Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom.

Before Thursday, June 20, the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act was due to appear on ballot papers in the November election that would have allowed voters to choose whether to make it harder for state and local governments to raise taxes. Currently, the California legislature can raise taxes with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the Assembly.

The measure, if approved, would have additionally required that voters also approve any new tax hikes following legislative passage.

However, the state's Supreme Court stepped in after Newsom and other lawmakers requested it do so on the grounds that it could amount to an illegal attempt to revise the California Constitution and would intervene in the functioning of the state's government.

Newsweek has contacted Governor Newsom for comment via the contact form on his website outside of normal working hours.

"We are grateful the California Supreme Court unanimously removed this unconstitutional measure from the ballot," Newsom spokesperson Izzy Gardon said in a statement seen by The Sacramento Bee. "The Governor believes the initiative process is a sacred part of our democracy, but as the Court's decision affirmed today, that process does not allow for an illegal constitutional revision."

In California, citizens have the power to directly amend the state Constitution through ballot measures, often bypassing both the governor and the state legislature. This process has been used previously, for example to make amendments to safeguard abortion rights and reduce legislators' salaries for not passing a budget on time.

However, the court has drawn a line between amending the Constitution, which involves adding new provisions, and revising it, which entails changing the structure of government, which the justices said would "fundamentally rework the fiscal underpinnings of our government at every level."

While voters can introduce amendments via ballot initiatives, they are not permitted to revise the Constitution in this manner. This could only be done if voters and the legislature approved a call for a new constitutional convention.

The removal came after more than a million Californians signed a petition in favor of having the measure on November's voting slips, according to The Associated Press.

The move has been criticized by Republicans, with Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party, saying: "The California Democrat machine's love affair with new taxes to pay for their ludicrous policies keep costing Californians their hard-earned money, and Newsom just made it that much easier to take even more."

"I'm disgusted," Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones, said in a statement seen by LAist. "The court has failed in its duty to the people of California and our democratic system and instead simply caved to pressure from the governor and legislative Democrats."

"Clearly, the state Supreme Court has now sent a signal that they are part of the progressive agenda in California, that we are a one-party state in California and there is no independent judiciary in California anymore," Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable, said according to CalMatters.

He accused Newsom and the Legislature of supporting democracy "only on their terms, when they think it's in their best interest."

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