05/09/2021

Schools, cities and counties will ask California voters to OK taxes and borrowing totaling $20 billion

The ballot California voters will tackle on election day is a long one, with dozens of candidates and 11 statewide propositions. While a lot of attention has been devoted to those choices, little has been given to scores of local ballot measures asking for permission to borrow or tax in communities — proposals totaling some $20 billion for schools, cities and counties.

How the local measures ended up on the ballot depends on the community, though all were written by local officials. There are other common threads too — many of these governments have limited options when it comes to funding. State income taxes go to Sacramento; property taxes are constrained by the rules under California’s landmark Proposition 13. And the dollars that do flow from the state and federal governments are often earmarked and off-limits for use on general community needs.

. . . As CalPERS lowers those predictions, more of the long-term pension obligation will fall on government employers. The league’s analysis predicted city pension payments will double over the next seven years. The money must come from a local government’s general fund — the beneficiary of any new taxes California voters impose on themselves on Nov. 6.

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