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20121208_Sacramento_Police_Fire.JPGA newly proposed constitutional amendment would lower the threshold for California's local voters to pass special taxes for police or fire agencies.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 is the latest in a string of measures that would allow local voters to approve revenue-raising tax proposals by a 55 percent majority rather than by two-thirds.

Democrats could place such constitutional amendments on the ballot without Republican support, since they control the governor's office and have supermajority control of both legislative houses.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the legislative push to ease voter tax thresholds is a reflection of state and local government's "insatiable appetite" for money.

"It's never enough," Coupal said.

Democratic Assemblywoman Nora Campos of San Jose proposed ACA 3, which would lower the threshold both for sales taxes to support law enforcement personnel and for bonded indebtedness to pay for facilities and equipment.

Campos' bill is sponsored by California Professional Firefighters, the California Police Chiefs Association, and the California State Sheriffs' Association.

A handful of proposed constitutional amendments, introduced in the Senate, would lower local voter thresholds for special taxes to be spent on schools, libraries and transportation projects.

The issue is sure to be hotly debated within the Legislature this year. Though California law currently requires a two-thirds majority for local passage of a special tax, earmarked for a specific purpose, city and county voters by simple majority can approve general tax increases usable for any government purpose.

PHOTO CREDIT: An ambulance arrives to pick up an injured suspect after a standoff with police at a Jack in the Box on the 8300 block of Folsom Ave near Howe St. in Sacramento. Autumn Payne / Sacramento Bee file, 2012


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