With results now certified in the record-turnout November election, 197 of 260 local tax and bond measures were approved, and the only tax repeal measures on the ballot both failed.
The approved measures will create $13.2 billion in new general obligation and school facility bonds that will be repaid via property tax increases in the jurisdictions where they were approved, and a minimum of $1.5 billion in other annual tax increases.
The bonds include Measure RR, a $7 billion school bond placed on the ballot by Los Angeles Unified School District.
All five tax and bond measures in San Francisco passed, including a documentary transfer tax increase, a gross receipts tax based upon chief executive officers’ pay and replacing the city’s payroll tax with an increase in the gross receipts tax rates.
In total, 64 of 79 sales tax increases were approved, 48 of 60 school bonds were approved and 24 of 43 parcel taxes were approved.
Majority-vote taxes and school bonds passed at rates above 80 percent, while special taxes requiring a two-thirds vote passed at rates below 60 percent.
The number of measures placed on the November ballot for consideration was far less than the amount on the November 2016 presidential general election, when voters approved 359 of 432 local tax and bond measures.
The November elections were a stark departure from the March primary elections in which voters rejected 142 of 237 local tax and bond measures.
CalTax noted that in local elections, the elected officials who placed most of the tax and bond measures on the ballot also were allowed to write the ballot questions – a conflict of interest that often leads to biased ballot materials.
In addition, many local governments used tax dollars to campaign for tax increases, despite the state law banning the use of public resources in campaigns. For example, a “fact sheet” on a sales tax measure in San Rafael began not with details about the proposed tax hike that would cost taxpayers an estimated $3.4 million per year, but with this statement: “Maintaining Essential City Services. The City of San Rafael strives to protect the quality of life for all residents and to provide a safe, healthy, prosperous and livable environment in partnership with the community. Important priorities include safe neighborhoods, active community centers for our youth and seniors, emergency response services and providing social services to support our most vulnerable populations. These essential city services make San Rafael a desirable place to live, work, do business and retire.”
The San Rafael tax, Measure R, was approved with 61.6 percent of the vote.