Sneak peek: 5 tax proposals you may see on the 2016 ballot

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

There has been some movement on the tax initiative front.

In August, I offered the following list of the top five measures most likely to make the ballot: 1) Prop. 30 Extension, 2) Cigarette Tax, 3) Split Roll Property Tax, 4) Service Tax, 5) Oil Severance Tax.

Circumstances have changed.

One move that few saw coming is that not one – but two – Proposition 30 extension measures have been filed. The teachers union has offered up an extension of Prop. 30 that was originally passed in 2012 based on the argument that money was needed for schools. The unions want to argue that this income tax on the wealthy, originally labeled temporary, would remain so for 12 additional years. The provision on the sales tax increase in Prop. 30 would be dropped.

Then came a second Proposition 30 extension proposal offered by, among others, the California Hospitals Association and related health care unions. I’m not sure if use of the term “extension” applies to this proposal since the idea it not to extend the temporary status but to make the tax on upper-income taxpayers permanent. Again the sales tax piece is dropped but additional income tax rates have been added.

Another major development occurred when the coalition of left-leaning advocacy groups that had been pumping for the split-roll property tax to hit commercial property announced in an email to supporters that they would not pursue a ballot measure for 2016. While it is still possible that others could file a split-roll initiative, the wind is out of the sails on this proposal.

However, a different kind of property tax increase proposal has been filed and could advance. This one would tax all property, commercial and residential, valued at over $3-million, and dedicate money for the purpose of relieving those in poverty. This measure is moving forward.

Finally, there was the announcement by NextGen founder and billionaire, Tom Steyer, that he would spend to support a cigarette tax. Steyer was the leading advocate for an oil severance tax. Certainly, he has the wherewithal to fund a tax on oil while contributing to a cigarette tax effort, but his announcement seems to pump up the cigarette tax while lessen the likelihood that we’ll see an oil severance tax measure in 2016 — especially if something comes out of the Special Session dealing with transportation that adds a new revenue source to fix roads and highways.

So, looking into the cracked and sometimes foggy crystal ball, here’s what I see in late October, about one year prior to the election, as the 5 most likely tax measures to appear on the 2016 ballot.

CIGARETTE TAX: Proponents have the means and the determination and now have a billionaire’s money.

PROP. 30 EXTENSION: You could really make this idea a co-number one with the Cigarette Tax. However, because of the two proposals, the exact tax measure probably has not been decided yet. Undoubtedly, the proponents of the two measures are trying to find common ground to back a single proposal. Whatever happens, however, most assuredly there will be some form of a Prop. 30 extension on the ballot.

PROPERTY TAX: Not the split-roll, but the poverty proposal. It is unclear how much support there is for this measure but proponents have established a committee and are starting to gather signatures.

MARIJUANA TAX: Does this even deserve to be on the list? I had not considered it before since the chief goal of a successful marijuana initiative is to legalize marijuana rather than create a new revenue stream. However, there will be a tax component to a marijuana proposal and the tax will be part of the debate over the measure.

ROAD FIX TAX: Unlikely that a road fix tax proposal would come via the initiative process although a powerful coalition of business and labor supports such a thing. Out of frustration they could move a proposal forward. There is also a chance a compromise transportation/infrastructure bill could come out of the Special Session which includes taxes. Neither the governor nor supporters of a road fix tax want to see it on the ballot, but that could be part of a final deal.

Finally, since I mentioned it last time but do not include it in the top five, Senator Bob Hertzberg has a plan to tie the tax system more closely to the current state economy by taxing services. Hertzberg also has a strategy that if many different taxes are headed for the ballot, that could present an opening for him. He could argue that his answer to California’s tax system flaws is a better overall fix than the myriad of other proposals. Remember, he also has potential financial support from another billionaire, Nicolas Berggreun’s Think Long Committee.


Write a comment
  1. Ken
    Ken 30 October, 2015, 14:51

    Thanks for the heads up. However, if all tax measures (scams to one degree or another) fail will the sky fall down?

    Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 30 October, 2015, 14:55

    Looks like just another Meathead Tobaco tax

    Reply this comment
  3. Colonel Bill Kilgore
    Colonel Bill Kilgore 31 October, 2015, 13:45

    Tax’em to the stone age, son!

    Tax’em good and hard, then tax’em again.

    Tax the shiite outta ’em.

    You didn’t include the local tax increase measures. A ton of them coming next election.

    At the state level I bet they get a tax measure for the roads which will be spent on everything else.

    And if Shitzberg gets his way the total taxes we all pay will go up although you can bet it will be advertised as a tax cut for the hoi polloi.

    I love the smell of tax increases in the morning!

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 31 October, 2015, 15:14

    Tax your Big Mac,Tax your cola,tax you ammo,tax your gasoline,tax your law mowing,tax your picnics,tax your christmas oriments TAX AND SPEND,TAX AND SPEND TAX AND SPEND thats what the demac-RATS like to do

    Reply this comment
  5. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 31 October, 2015, 21:51

    Do not fret.

    You can move with us.

    Pack and Ship!

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

17 years later, O.C. desalination plant inches toward finish line

The massive $1 billion Carlsbad desalination plant — the largest in North America — begins normal operations this month after

San Diego mayor’s latest escapade borders on extortion

June 18, 2013 By Chris Reed The bullying behavior that has characterized Bob Filner his entire political career has taken

Dreamers leaving CA

The New York Times ran a fascinating graphic showing how California, while still a major destination of those from foreign lands,