Legislative Update – August 26th

A proposed constitutional amendment to lower the vote threshold for local jurisdictions to raise taxes and issue bonds for housing and infrastructure failed on the Assembly floor Monday.

CA ACA 1 (19R) by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) would have allowed voters to pass special taxes and bonds issued by cities and counties with 55 percent approval, lowering the two-thirds mark currently prescribed in California’s constitution under Proposition 13.

The proposal itself would have required voter approval and would only have applied to funding for affordable housing and public works projects. The measure can still be reconsidered later this session.

During the floor debate, Democrats framed the current two-thirds threshold as a flawed system that empowers a vocal minority to overrule the majority of residents.

“I’m asking you to stand up for your constituents,” Aguiar-Curry said. “I’m asking you to take care of your people by providing them the power to make decisions in their own backyard.”

Following comments in opposition to the measure from a number of Republicans and Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), who criticized it for being fiscally irresponsible and weakening taxpayer protections, Aguiar-Curry took a personal shot at her colleagues that drew murmurs from the floor.

“You know this takes courage, everyone, it’ll be interesting to see how many of you have courage today,” she said.

No Republicans voted for the proposal. They were joined by two Democrats who voted no — Cooley and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) — and 13 who didn’t vote. Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) called it a “victory for taxpayers.”

“The middle class is being driven out of our state because of the high cost of living,” he said in a statement. “I’ll continue to oppose legislation like ACA 1 that will make the affordability crisis even worse.”

Habitat for Humanity continues to be involved in these conversations and are working with stakeholders to ensure that we enact meaningful legislation to protect, preserve, and produce affordable housing in California.