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Proposition confusion 

Exposing the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors' contradictory votes on taxes

Well, isn't that convenient? Just when you thought politicians couldn't get more cynical and underhanded, here come the David Copperfield of spin and sleight of hand. This phenomenon isn't confined to magic shows; it's a stark reality in the political arena, particularly highlighted by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.

In September, the Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisors Bruce Gibson, Jimmy Paulding, and Dawn Ortiz-Legg, voted 3-2 against opposing any measure that requires reducing the threshold for tax increases from a two-thirds majority to a 55 percent vote. Simultaneously, they voted to oppose any changes to Proposition 13, which limits property tax rates in California and created the original two-thirds requirement for certain local tax increases. This contradictory vote allows them to say to one group of people that they support the very same thing they voted against.

Such actions directly contribute to the public's growing skepticism toward politicians. These contradictory stances show a lack of transparency and integrity by politicians more interested in political posturing and retaining power than in serving the public.

Specifically, the Board of Supervisors voted against platform item 14. Translation: They voted against The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, which will be on the November 2024 ballot and aims to close a court-created loophole and brings the two-thirds voter approval requirement for special taxes back. The Taxpayer Protection Act does the following:

• Requires all new state taxes passed by the Legislature to be approved by voters.

• Eliminates all "hidden taxes" by clearly defining what constitutes a tax or fee.

• Restores two-third voter approval for all new local special tax increases.

• Eliminates loopholes that have allowed unelected boards and commissions to pass "hidden taxes" without voter approval.

• Requires clear and concise descriptions of new tax proposals.

• Requires clear identification of how tax revenue will be spent before it goes to the voters, ensuring revenue will not be diverted to other purposes.

• Ensures that the new or higher tax rate and length will be listed on the ballot for voters to see.

Despite the Board of Supervisors' opposition to the Taxpayer Protection Act, their supposed support for Proposition 13 shows how inconsistent their positions are. After all, Proposition 13 limits the property tax rate to 1 percent of the assessed value of a home at the time of purchase and holds annual tax increases to no more than 2 percent until the property is sold. In addition, Proposition 13 requires that all state tax increases be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and that a two-thirds majority of voters approve local special taxes.

If Supervisors Gibson, Paulding, and Ortiz-Legg truly support Proposition 13, then they should also be in strong support of the Taxpayer Protection Act when it goes before California voters next year. Instead, their political pandering erodes trust and widens the gap between elected officials and its residents. Δ

Jon Coupal is the President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA). HJTA is the largest taxpayers association in California, with a membership of more than 200,000. Respond with a letter to the editor by emailing it to [email protected].

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