SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced today that the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010 (AG Initiative #: 09-0063) qualified for the November 2010 ballot.
The measure, supported by a coalition of local government, transportation, business, public safety, taxpayer, labor and public transit leaders, closes loopholes to prevent the State from taking, diverting or borrowing local government, transportation and public transit funds. Supporters submitted more than 1.1 million signatures and counties verified through the random sampling verification process that the coalition had met the requirement of 694,354 valid signatures.
"More than 1 million California voters signed the petition to stop State raids of local government and transportation funds," said Chris McKenzie, Executive Director of the League of California Cities and co-Chair of Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services. "We will now turn our attention to educating the voters to support this initiative to protect funding for the vital local services that they rely upon."
California voters have overwhelmingly passed measures in previous elections to restrict state raids of local government funds, as well as to dedicate gasoline taxes to transportation and public transit improvements and services. According to Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, State politicians have exploited loopholes in the law and used legally questionable tactics to borrow and raid approximately $5 billion in local government, transit and redevelopment funds in the 2009/10 budget cycle and billions more in past years. Coupled with the downturn in the economy, state raids and borrowing of local funds are contributing to severe cutbacks in local police and fire, parks, libraries, street and road repair, public transit and other local services.
Sheldon Gilbert, Fire Chief of the Alameda County Fire Department and President of the California Fire Chiefs Association, said: "Reduced revenues are putting a strain on front-line fire protection, emergency response and public safety services. We must pass this measure to prevent future state actions that erode local public safety funding."
If passed, the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety, and Transportation Act of 2010 would:
- Prohibit the state from borrowing local government property tax funds which are vital for public safety and other local services.
- Prohibit the state from taking or borrowing the Highway User Tax on gasoline (HUTA), which currently funds city, county and state road, highway, transit and other transportation improvements and services.
- Prevent the State from redirecting or diverting locally levied taxes, including: parcel taxes; sales taxes; utility user taxes; Transit Occupancy Taxes which include taxes on hotel/motel rooms and rental cars; and other locally imposed taxes that are currently passed by local governments and/or local voters and dedicated to cities, counties and special districts.
- Prohibit the State from taking, borrowing or redirecting Public Transportation Account (PTA) revenues dedicated to public transit.
- Add additional constitutional protections to prevent the state from raiding redevelopment funds or shifting redevelopment funds to other state purposes.
"California voters have repeatedly supported statewide measures that dedicate the gas taxes we pay at the pump for transportation improvements," said Jim Earp, Executive Director of the California Alliance for Jobs and co-chair of Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services. "Despite this, year after year the Legislature exploits every loophole it can find to borrow or outright raid these critical funds. This measure will once and for all protect gas taxes from future raids and insure they are used to improve our roads, highways and transit systems – just like the voters intended."
Josh Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association and co-chair of the coalition said: "Local transit agencies up and down the state are cutting routes for buses, shuttles and commuter trains as a direct result of continued state raids of local transit funds. These cuts are creating real hardships for working families who have no other mode of transportation to and from work, school, health care appointments and other life responsibilities. The decisions made in Sacramento are harming real people who rely on local services. Enough is enough. "
"Cities and counties throughout California have been forced to make devastating cuts to law enforcement and other public safety services, due in part to state budgetary raids," said Ron Cottingham, President, Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC). "On behalf of 62,000 public safety members, PORAC urges a YES vote on this initiative to protect public safety services by stopping state raids of local funds."
Concluded McKenzie: "We know voters value their local services and strongly oppose state raids of their local tax dollars that are supposed to fund those services. We're confident voters will pass this measure in November.
For more information visit www.savelocalservices.com
Paid for by Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, a coalition of taxpayers, public safety, local government, transportation, business and labor, with major funding from the League of California Cities (non-public funds) 1121 L Street, #803 – Sacramento, CA 95814
SOURCE Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services