SCA 3 Proposes Constitutional Amendment To Lower Voter Approval Requirement For Parcel Taxes From Two-Thirds To 55 Percent For School Districts

SCA 3 seeks to amend the California Constitution relating to taxation by amending Section 4 of Article XIIIA, adding Section 4.5 to Article XIIIA, amending Section 2 of Article XIIIC, and amending Section 3 of Article XIIID, and would reduce the voted approval needed for parcel taxes from the current two-thirds to 55 percent.  The Constitutional amendment would help school districts that have been subjected to funding cuts.  SCA 3 is a legislative response to the recent restrictive court of appeals decision Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District (--- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, Cal.App. 1 Dist., March 6, 2013), which held that a parcel tax that levies different assessments on commercial and residential property violates Government Code section 50079 and is therefore invalid.

Note

For the most current discussion of the referenced Borikas case, please see our Legal Alert entitled, “UPDATE:  After Rehearing, Court Of Appeal Upholds Its Previous Parcel Tax Ruling”, March 18, 2013.

SCA 3 proposes to add Section 4.5 to Article XIIIA, which would provide that “[t]he imposition, extension, or increase of a parcel tax on real property by a school district, community college district, or county office of education . . . is subject to approval by 55 percent of the voters of that district or county voting on the proposition” if certain conditions as met.  These conditions require that the proposition must be approved by a majority vote of the governing board of a school district, community college district, or county office of education, it must contain accountability requirements enumerated in Section 4.5, and it must allow for an exemption from the tax to be claimed under county-established procedures for parcels owned by and used as “the principal residence of, either a person or persons 65 years of age or older, or, without regard to age, a person or persons receiving Supplemental Security Income for a disability.”  Similar to Proposition 39, these accountability requirements include a list of specific purposes and programs that are to be funded, a requirement that proceeds only be used for purposes and programs specified in the proposition, the governing board conduct an annual independent financial audit, and to establish a citizens’ oversight committee to review the expenditures.  

We will continue to monitor this legislation and provide updates as it progresses.

Questions

If you have any questions concerning the content of this Legal Alert, please contact the following from our office, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

P. Addison Covert, Constantine C. Baranoff or Meghan Covert Russell | 916.321.4500

Brett L. Price | 661.864.3800