State Supreme Court has made it easier to raise taxes, or did it?

The state Supreme Court this week issued a much-anticipated ruling that will make it much easier for local tax increases to be enacted.

Or maybe not.

The 5-2 decision, upholding an appellate court ruling, was that the taxing constraints on local governments in the state constitution don’t apply to voter-generated ballot measures that raise taxes.

It was immediately interpreted by anti-tax and pro-tax forces as allowing initiatives for “special taxes” – those for specific purposes – to be approved by voters via simple majorities, rather than the two-thirds margins required for special taxes proposed by governments themselves.

“It’s pretty devastating,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “It will incentivize collusion between local governments and special interest groups to create special tax increases.”

Coupal says an effort will be mounted to overturn the decision via a constitutional amendment.

“It’s hard to overstate how important this ruling is,” Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, said in a statement. “Communities will now have a much easier time funding schools, transportation and other critical needs.”

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