Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed its own appeal today challenging newly enacted budget legislation that gives Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative the top spot on the November ballot.
The group believes Assembly Bill 1499 violates the constitution by changing the ballot order through a majority-vote budget bill, said the group's president, Jon Coupal. By using budget legislation, Democrats were able to change the ballot priority now rather than next year - an expedited schedule that normally would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
"I think the broader issue here is of the electoral process, and this bill was designed to give one specific measure preference on the ballot," said Coupal, part of a coalition fighting Brown's tax initiative. "I think voters are going to react very negatively to that, no matter how one views additional tax hikes."
HJTA has asked California's 3rd District Court of Appeal to stop the Secretary of State from assigning numbers to initiatives, which could occur as soon as today. A Sacramento Superior Court judge delayed the ballot numbering earlier this month after a tax initiative campaign backed by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger alleged that improprieties had occurred in the signature gathering process and that AB 1499 was unconstitutional.
A separate judge this morning rejected Munger's challenge, though he did not consider the constitutional question after lawyers on both sides focused on the signature verification process. Munger's "Our Children, Our Future" campaign declined to appeal.
If the HJTA suit proceeds, it could have implications beyond the November ballot by potentially narrowing the types of changes that state leaders can pass on a majority vote.
Brown tax initiative spokesman Dan Newman responded in an email, "Anti-education extremists will do everything possible to defeat this Initiative, but the court has spoken and voters are ready to do the right thing for our schools, public safety, and budget."