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Legislature Weighs Expanded Local Tax Authority

Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011 5:43am

A state bill that would expand the power of counties and school districts to levy taxes has passed a California legislative committee. The measure would allow counties and school districts to ask voters to approve income taxes, excise taxes on tobacco or alcohol and oil severance taxes.

Democratic Senator Christine Kehoe of San Diego says lawmakers haven’t been able to come up with statewide revenues– and this is an alternative. “The local, communities, cities, counties, school districts are suffering because of it, so if we can’t do it up here, then at least let’s give them the tools to do it at home,” she said.

Republicans and business groups oppose the measure. So does the California Taxpayers Association. Gina Rodriquez with the group says it represents a problematic power shift. According to Rodriquez, “granting taxing authority and therefore fiscal responsibility to counties and school districts would in effect create a fragmented system of taxation: county against county, school district against school district.”

One Republican lawmaker called the measure another “budget scare tactic” by Democrats. The bill heads next to another legislative committee.

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