Californians Vote: Yes, New Taxes

Vallejo, Atherton voters approve new taxes to help cash-strapped city governments.

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Nov 4, 2009  |  Updated 2:45 PM PDT
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Californians Vote: Yes, New Taxes

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Arnold Schwarzenegger may think Californians only support slashing programs to balance budgets, but a mini tax-revolt-revolt happened in Vallejo and Atherton yesterday.

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While it's long been considered political suicide to propose new taxes in California, voters in Vallejo and Atherton voted yesterday to expand taxes to pay for government services.

City governments have been particularly struggling to pay for even basic services, with Vallejo having had to declare bankruptcy.

Raids on city funds by state lawmakers to balance California's budget mess certainly haven't helped. And Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's repeated attempts to cap spending through ballot propositions have also failed with voters.

In Vallejo, voters expanded utility fees to include text messages and other new forms of communication.

Even Atherton residents, who live in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, passed a parcel tax to help pay for city services.

In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom rejected calls to hold a special election in June, citing a lack of support for new taxes to balance the budget.

That may have been a miscalculation, as certainly cuts to programs haven't proven popular, and anti-tax sentiment, at least in the Bay Area, seems to have waned a bit.

Jackson West hopes this is some indication that Californians have figured out that they can't have their cake and eat it, too.

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