Fearmongering about Taxpayer Protection Act a 'misunderstanding' of the measure

February 28, 2023

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In the last of exclusive Opp Now coverage on a statewide measure, Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association board member Pierluigi Oliverio unpacks local media’s fundamental misinterpretations about existing vs. proposed tax increases. Billions of SJ funds will remain available for public safety services whether or not the Act passes, and no laws currently in place will be repealed.

Opportunity Now: Let’s talk about this local media article, starting with the title: “Proposed law threatens billions in San Jose funding.” That seems a bit unfounded, or is it just us?

Pierluigi Oliverio: The article title didn’t accurately convey the ballot measure and what it does. The measure won’t remove any taxes in place today. Going forward, if you wish to propose a new tax, you would now be required to meet certain transparency criteria. But that doesn’t threaten away anything already in place. So I don’t know where the idea of “billions” came from in reference to the city budget, but it seems like a misunderstanding. All this measure does is put transparency guardrails on future tax increases.

ON: Is it justifiable to require not just legislators but voters to approve all state-level tax increases?

PO: This measure asks that as the state legislature increases taxes, citizens must approve their actions 50% + 1. That seems reasonable in terms of governance and citizen participation.

ON: San Jose pols, in a recent memo, argue that the Taxpayer Protection Act would “reduce local control and diminish the ability of voters and taxpayers to weigh in on local spending decisions.”

PO: I don’t believe local gov’t will be inhibited at all. They can still pursue tax increases; there’s just a higher threshold. For reference, SJ voters passed the Measure T tax increase in 2018 with 71% approval and Measure B tax increase in 2014 with 81%.

Overall, I’m more interested in the transparency parts of the measure. Under this measure, proponents will be required to explain the duration of the tax, how much revenue it’ll raise, and how it’ll be spent. This will provide greater confidence to voters and might even make those typically cynical about tax measures more inclined to support them because they’ll all be clearly defined. The Mercury News has written how tax measures can be bait-and-switch by having a misleading title and summary, and this ballot measure fixes that identified concern, as well.

Click here to read the article at the web site of Opportunity Now Silicon Valley.

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