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California Legislature

California voters could make it easier to raise taxes to build transit and low-income housing under new legislation

The Expo Line in Los Angeles is shown. (Los Angeles Times)
The Expo Line in Los Angeles is shown. (Los Angeles Times)

A Sacramento-area assemblywoman wants Californians to decide if it should be easier to raise taxes or issue bonds to finance transit, water, parks and low-income housing projects.

Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) has proposed a constitutional amendment that would lower the margin needed for local governments to pass a tax hike or bond measure to pay for such efforts from a two-thirds supermajority to 55%.

"Local communities know their priorities best," Aguiar-Curry said in a release. "This constitutional amendment will offer an important tool for local leaders to support projects and determine how to pay for them."

Because the measure is a constitutional amendment, it will require a two-thirds supermajority vote of the Legislature to pass. If that happens, state voters will decide whether to lower the threshold to pass these tax hikes in 2018.

Nearly 80% of two-thirds supermajority measures put before local voters since 2001 garnered more than 55% “yes” votes, but ultimately failed because they fell short of the two-thirds threshold, according to Aguilar-Curry's office.

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has proposed a similar constitutional amendment to lower the threshold for passage, but only for transportation projects.

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