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The California Supreme Court is considering whether to remove a measure that increases the difficulty of placing tax-raising proposals on the ballot

Patricia Gurrero speaks at the court (Via David Starc/Shutterstock)

The California Supreme Court is considering whether to prevent a measure from appearing on the November ballot that would make it harder for state and local governments to increase taxes. This legal dispute pits Governor Gavin Newsom and Democratic lawmakers against business groups and taxpayer advocates who organized the initiative.

During arguments on Wednesday, some of the seven justices questioned whether completely blocking the measure from the ballot, a rare move for the court, was the most appropriate action. They also sought clarity on how the measure would affect local government’s ability to raise taxes and fees.

Currently, the Legislature can raise taxes with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and Assembly. The proposed initiative would require voter approval for new tax hikes after legislative approval.

The measure also aims to raise the voting threshold for communities to approve tax increases through ballot initiatives, changing it from a simple majority to a two-thirds majority.

Gavin Newsom discusses the budget (Via David Starc/Shutterstock)

Last fall, Governor Newsom, the Legislature, and others filed a lawsuit seeking to remove the measure from the ballot. They argued that it would alter the constitutional authority of the Legislature regarding taxation and undermine the executive branch’s administrative powers.

Thomas Hiltachk, a lawyer representing supporters of the measure, argued in court that the initiative should proceed, dismissing concerns about its potential impacts as speculative. He suggested that any problematic aspects could be challenged later if the measure is approved.

Hiltachk asserted, “Statements about the measure’s impact are based not on evidence submitted to this court but on the opinions of people in the government who do not want change.”

The court is expected to make a decision by June 27, the deadline for the Secretary of State to finalize the general election ballot.

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