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SACRAMENTO, February 2, 2022 — Today, the League of California Cities, California Professional Firefighters, SEIU California, California Alliance for Jobs, AFSCME California, and the California Special Districts Association announced their strong opposition to the deceptively named “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act,” a ballot measure sponsored by the California Business Roundtable (CBRT), an organization that advocates on behalf of the largest and wealthiest corporations in California.

The coalition of public safety, labor, local government, and infrastructure groups are vocalizing their opposition as the California Attorney General is set to issue an official Title and Summary for the measure tomorrow, February 3. Once Title and Summary is released, proponents can begin signature gathering. They must submit 997,139 valid signatures in order to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. The Secretary of State’s recommended date to turn in signatures is April 29, 2022.

“This far-reaching measure would significantly jeopardize cities’ ability to provide services and critical infrastructure to local residents,” said Carolyn Coleman, Executive Director and CEO, League of California Cities. “It would impose undemocratic restrictions on local voters and local governments that could force significant cuts to vital services like fire and emergency response, infrastructure, libraries, parks, sanitation, and more.”

“This irresponsible measure would significantly reduce state and local funding available for fire prevention and response, including emergency services,” said Brian K. Rice, President, California Professional Firefighters. “At a time when our state and local communities are reeling from the impacts of intense and prolonged wildfires, this proposition interferes with the ability of firefighters and first responders to do our jobs and keep the public safe.”

The CBRT measure would create major new loopholes that allow wealthy corporations to avoid paying their fair share for the impacts they have on our communities; while also allowing corporations to evade enforcement when they violate environmental, health, safety, and other state and local laws. It would also significantly restrict the ability of local voters, local governments, and state elected officials to fund critical services like public schools, fire and emergency response, public health, parks, libraries, affordable housing, homeless and mental health services, and public infrastructure.

“This initiative is a deceptive scheme written and paid for by wealthy corporations for their sole benefit,” said Tia Orr, Interim Executive Director, SEIU California. “These rich corporations are trying to create constitutional loopholes to avoid paying their fair share, while shifting the burden onto hardworking Californians.”

“This measure would make it much more difficult to fund critical infrastructure that’s needed in California,” said Michael Quigley, Executive Director, California Alliance for Jobs. “It would undercut our ability to invest in virtually every form of infrastructure, including safe bridges, local streets and roads, public transportation, drinking water quality, new schools, and utilities.”

“This proposition would make it much more difficult for state and local regulators to issue fines and levies on corporations that violate laws intended to protect our environment, public health and safety, and our neighborhoods,” said Alia Griffing, Political and Legislative Director, AFSCME California. “It’s a get out of jail free card for wealthy corporations that will hurt our efforts to provide critical public services necessary to keep our communities healthy and safe.”

“This measure exposes taxpayers to a new wave of costly litigation, limits the discretion of locally elected officials to respond to the needs of their communities, and injects uncertainty into financing critical infrastructure,” said Neil McCormick, CEO, California Special Districts Association. “We are in strong opposition to this dangerous measure that jeopardizes the health and safety of communities and prevents critical investments in climate adaptation and community resilience to address drought, flooding, and wildfire as well as reduce emissions and harmful pollutants.”

Background

A broad and growing coalition of local governments, labor and public safety leaders, infrastructure advocates, and businesses opposes this measure. The measure:

Gives Wealthy Corporations a Major Loophole to Avoid Paying their Fair Share — Forcing Local Residents and Taxpayers to Pay More

  • The measure creates new constitutional loopholes that allow corporations to pay far less than their fair share for the impacts they have on our communities, including local infrastructure, our environment, water quality, air quality, and natural resources shifting the burden and making individual taxpayers pay more.

Allows Corporations to Dodge Enforcement When They Violate Environmental, Health, Public Safety and Other Laws

  • It creates new loopholes that makes it much more difficult for state and local regulators to issue fines and levies on corporations that violate laws intended to protect our environment, public health and safety, and our neighborhoods.

Jeopardizes Vital Local and State Services

  • This far-reaching measure puts at risk billions of dollars currently dedicated to critical state and local services.
  • It could force cuts to public schools, fire and emergency response, law enforcement, public health, parks, libraries, affordable housing, services to support homeless residents, mental health services, and more.
  • It would also reduce funding for critical infrastructure like streets and roads, public transportation, drinking water, new schools, sanitation, utilities, and more.

Opens the Door for Frivolous Lawsuits, Bureaucracy and Red Tape that Will Cost Taxpayers and Hurt Our Communities

  • The measure will encourage frivolous lawsuits, bureaucracy, and red tape that will cost local taxpayers millions — while significantly delaying and stopping investments in infrastructure and vital services.

Undermines Voter Rights, Transparency, and Accountability

  • It would limit voter input by prohibiting local advisory measures, where voters provide direction to politicians on how they want their local tax dollars spent.
  • It would change our constitution to make it more difficult for local and state voters to pass measures needed to fund local services and local infrastructure.
  • It also includes a hidden provision that would retroactively cancel measures that were passed by local voters — effectively undermining the rights of voters to decide for themselves what their communities need.

Established in 1898, the League of California Cities is a nonprofit statewide association that advocates for cities with the state and federal governments and provides education and training services to elected and appointed city officials.