Prop 13 supermajority for taxes upheld…again

The California Second District Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the challenge to Prop. 13’s “supermajority” rule for new state taxes — i.e. the rule that the Legislature can’t raise taxes without a two-thirds vote in both chambers. This provision was added to the California Constitution by voters when they enacted Proposition 13 in 1978. The lawsuit was filed by former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young, arguing that the two-thirds vote rule amounted to a “revision” that fundamentally changed the Constitution, not a mere amendment. The Second District notes in its decision, the California Supreme Court already upheld the entirety of Prop 13, in its Amador Valley ruling 34 years ago, against this same argument, i.e., that Prop 13 impermissibly “revised” the Constitution. See Decision below.

On behalf of taxpayer organizations, the Pacific Legal Foundation submitted an amicus brief in opposition to Young’s arguments. The brief pointed out that not only was Young’s lawsuit redundant and foreclosed in light of the 1978 Amador Valley ruling, but Young’s underlying argument was invalid in any case.

In fact, it is Young’s lawsuit that would impermissibly “revise” the Constitution. Young sought to drastically shrink voters’ powers of initiative, particularly their clear, constitutionally recognized power to use the initiative process to protect themselves from higher taxes. So, with this decision rejecting Young’s lawsuit, the Second District Court of Appeal upheld solid legal precedent, the integrity of the initiative process, and the electorate’s right to pull rank on the Legislature when it comes to important issues of taxation.

2nd DIstrict Upholds Prop 13 Supermajority for taxes