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Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

Issue Updates & Blog

  • 25 Jul 2012 8:53 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    From: Harold Johnson, attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation     www.pacificlegal.org   (916) 419-7111

    To: Taxpayer organizations that joined with PLF in defending Proposition 13

    Re:  WE WON TODAY AT THE SECOND DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL  --- see today’s court ruling attached to this email.

    Dear friends,

    Today, we all can celebrate a great victory in our joint battle to defend Prop. 13.Today – July 24 – we all can celebrate a great victory for our joint effort to defend Prop. 13.   

    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, of course, was added to the California Constitution by voters when they enacted Proposition 13 in 1978.    As you know, 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.   As the Second District notes in its decision (attached to this email), the California Supreme Court already upheld the entirely of Prop 13, in its Amador Valley ruling 34 years ago, against this same argument, i.e., that Prop 13 impermissibly “revised” the Constitution.  

    On behalf of your taxpayer organizations, PLF submitted an amicus brief in opposition to Young’s arguments.   We 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.  All in all, a good day’s work for this court.   

    Thank you again for joining us in this important – and successful – effort to defend Prop. 13!

    All the best,


    Harold Johnson


    Pacific Legal Foundation

    930 G Street

    Sacramento, CA   95814


    (916) 419-7111

    fax (916) 419-7747

    cell: (916) 267-3281

  • 25 Jul 2012 8:36 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    Voters in the County will be facing a brace of measures and more may be coming in addition to the long list from the state:

     - West Contra Costa Unified School district is looking for a bond AND a parcel tax

     -  ConFire will vote on a pacel tax amount on July 31

     - San Ramon school district has a bond measure

     - Pinole a UUT

     - Strangest of all is the advisory vote in Richmond on a business license "fee" for each ounce of sugary drinks sold.

    Going to be a long and busy ballot!

  • 17 Jul 2012 11:22 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    A lot of publicity has gone to CalPERS and its pitiful 1% rate of return. CCCERA is using a 7.75 expected rate of return when for 2011 it earned 2.7%, the 5 year average is only 2.4%, and the 10 year average is 6.2%. Retaining that 7.75% rate of return will push more expenses to the governments in CCCERA including the county and ConFire. That will mean dollars that would go to services will be directed to pension payments.

    Experts are saying this is an unrealistic rate of return but often political decisions get in the way of good finance choices. For example, CalPERS received a lot of pressure from cities and unions who did not want their rate of return reduced from 7.75% to 7.5% when their actuaries suggested an even lower number.  This is because it would increase the cost of the payments to CalPERS. However, realistically, so does only earning the 1% that CalPERS just earned. However, that cost recognition is further in the future. It is expensive to kick the can down then road but that is the choice that is being made. 

  • 10 Jul 2012 7:50 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association released the following story:

    "Sacramento – In a victory for the integrity of the ballot process, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District issued an order to the Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen, to reverse her action giving Governor Brown's tax hike initiative preference in the ballot materials or to submit a brief justifying her actions by July 30th. Pursuant to AB 1499, Bowen gave Brown's initiative the highest available number (Prop 30) on the November ballot."

    Read the rest at: http://www.hjta.org/press-releases/pr-court-appeal-orders-secretary-state-justify-manipulation-election-process

  • 06 Jun 2012 12:15 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    The poorly conceived Measure S for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District was solidly defeated at 56.44% against and only 43.56% in favor of this parcel tax. There was no money spent on the "No" position - CoCoTAX authored a ballot argument along with two courageous East County citizens who signed the rebuttal along with me. The "yes" side not only had mailers and signs, they were telling the residents that half their stations would be closed, firefighters let go, and their insurance rates would go up. In the face of these threats the voters still said no.

    It is to be hoped that both the fire district board and the firefighters union will learn from this profound message the voters sent.

    I deeply regret that CoCoTAX, its Board, and I have been treated to attacks on our character. Issues choose CoCoTAX, we don't choose them.

  • 16 May 2012 6:44 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    Check out the May 11, 2012 Press release about the new $300,000 pension club level created by Craig Bowen formerly of the San Ramon Fire Protection District. He is Contra Costa County Employees' Retirment Association $100,000 Pension Club's first $300,000 man. 

    There are now 645 members of the $100,000 Club (receiving a monthly pension of $8,333 or more per month.) 

    40% of the recipients are former firefighters.  ConFire fills 180 of the 268 firefighter spots. 

  • 16 May 2012 6:32 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    A few supporters of Measure S have taken to attacking CoCoTAX Executive Director Kris Hunt for the organization's opposition to Measure S.  It seems they can't handle our logical arguments.

    There seems to be a real disconnect on the part of some that the fact the Fire District decided to offer a tax that starts at $197 (and can grow to $250) despite a poll showing people would only be willing to pay $96. The Board and firefighers (who are funding a mailer campaign) are now threatening voters with station closures.  They refuse to accept that they created this situation by only offering this plan which INCREASES STAFFING BY 30%! 

    It was not the only plan they could have offered. This is government arrogance at its worse but some are preferring to blame the messenger instead of looking in the mirror.

  • 04 Apr 2012 8:42 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    Shocking as it may seem, the average American works until April 17th this year just to pay his/her Federal, state, and local taxes. How ironic that April 17th is the day your income taxes are due this year!  Depressing is the thought that if the Federal government had not used borrowing to cover so much of its cost, this year's Tax Freedom Day would be May 14th!

    Average Californian taxpayers will continue to work an additional three days - until April 20th - to pay their share of taxes. These numbers are courtesy of the Tax Foundation at .http://taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday
  • 04 Apr 2012 7:53 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    CoCoTAX's work on Richmond's attempt to circumvent the two-thirds vote for a sales tax increase by using two measures: one for the tax and one to say what they were going to use it for earned CoCoTAX a the Home Town Hero designation.  CoCoTAX's Executive Director, Kris Hunt, signed the ballot argument on behalf of CoCoTAX. The tax was defeated.
  • 22 Feb 2012 8:36 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    Because this is a "fee" the method chosen to distribute the ballots is through a private company, not the County Elections Office. The "ballot" may look more like an advertisement since the return address is the Clean Water group.  A copy of the envelope can be found here:  CCCWP Outgoing Env v1.pdf

    CoCoTAX is opposing this measure for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:
    • The "fee" differs in three areas in Contra Costa County that seem to have no other basis than what polls show people will pay.
    • The fee is not modest like they emphasize (businesses can pay thousands of dollars) and the fee can be raised annually for the next ten years. 
    • There is already a similar fee on your tax bill that is now up to $30 and it was stated during the public hearing that they needed this new fee because that was not enough money.
    • The "calculations" include vague number justification and include dubious amounts for public outreach. The massive amounts of money being spent in advertising shows what is at stake.
    • There is no scientific studies that validate the claims that are being made for the need for many of the issues raised.
    • The trash reduction component is unrealistic and could actually cause flooding when such small particulates are trapped. (think leaves in the fall
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