Initiative #1935 (filed as 21-0042A1)

Official Title:
Limits Ability of Voters and State and Local Governments to Raise Revenues for Government Services. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

In the now landmark case Legislature v. Weber, a unanimous California Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Shirley Weber not to place Initiative 1935 on the November 2024 statewide ballot because, rather than a lawful initiative amendment of the California Constitution, it is an improper revision. A revision can only be proposed by the Legislature or a constitutional convention.

Known by opponents as The Taxpayer Deception Act, Initiative 1935 would have revised the State Constitution to retroactively invalidate hundreds of local ballot measures and jeopardized billions of dollars in funding for essential services.

In response to the opinion, CSDA Chief Executive Officer Neil McCormick issued the following statement:

“The California Supreme Court today took decisive action to preserve the rights of voters and to protect local control, as well as the State Constitution.  By finding Initiative 1935 to be unconstitutional, the court clearly recognized this dangerous and illegal measure was in conflict with the principles of our democracy.  This decisive action will protect communities from disruptions to essential services like water, sanitation, and fire protection, which would have been otherwise unavoidable under the draconian and retroactive provisions of the initiative.”

CSDA has stood in opposition to Initiative 1935 since its initial filing as Initiative 21-0042A1, educating members and stakeholders on the dangerous and illegal impacts the measure would have on California’s communities. Over 140 special districts adopted an oppose resolution on the initiative.

The State Legislature, Governor Gavin Newsom, and former Senate President Pro Tem John Burton filed a petition in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for an order directing Secretary Weber to remove the measure from the ballot. The Supreme Court typically hears appeals from lower courts, and exercise of its original jurisdiction is rare. At the urging of a wide range of amici, a coalition of local government advocates including CSDA among them, the Court ordered full briefing and argument of the petition.

Many have referred to Initiative 1935 (filed as Initiative f21-0042A1) as the “CBRT Initiative”, a reference to its proponents, the California Business Roundtable (“CBRT”). These proponents have labeled their initiative the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” or “Taxpayer Protection Act” for short. Whereas a growing opposition coalition has dubbed the initiative the “Taxpayer Deception Act.”

Quick Summary

Ballot Initiative 1935 would have resulted in the loss of billions of dollars annually in critical state and local funding, disrupting the ability of voters, local agencies, and the State of California to fund services and infrastructure by:

  • Adopting new and severely stricter rules for raising taxes, fees, assessments, and other charges.
  • Revising the State Constitution, as amended by Propositions 13, 218, and 26 among other provisions, to the advantage of the initiative’s proponents and plaintiffs; creating new grounds to challenge these funding sources and disrupting fiscal certainty.
  • Restricting the ability of local governments to issue fines and penalties to corporations and property owners that violate local environmental, water quality, public health, public safety, fair housing, nuisance, and other laws and ordinances.

The initiative included provisions that would retroactively void all state and local taxes or fees adopted after January 1, 2022 if they did not align with the provisions of this initiative. This may have also affected indexed fees that adjust over time for inflation or other factors. Effectively, it would have allowed well-funded interests that are not residents of your community to invalidate the prior actions of local voters in your community, undermining local control and voter-approved decisions about investments needed in their essential services and infrastructure.

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