Statewide election results indicate voters are taxed out

Many state and local ballot issues had a tough election night as voters took a dim view of government at all levels asking for more money. Many of the state's voters seemed to take part in a spontaneous sort of tax revolt.

California Proposition 13 failed to get the necessary two-thirds of votes to fund $15 billion in badly needed school improvements.

"Well, I think we may be taxed out," said well known political consultant Don Perata.  

Perata, a former Alameda County Supervisor, Assemblyman and Senate President Pro Tem. says besides tax weariness, another unrelated event, driven by coronavirus, spelled doom.

"The timing of that, I would not underestimate that, because people are worried, particularly people who are on pensions are very worried about those kinds of things and, as you know, it dropped like a rock," said Mr. Perata.

That's why many, not all, local school bonds failed.

"The people who are benefiting in that directly, people who have children are fewer than older people," said Perata.

In a County transportation measure, Contra Costa voters rejected a 35-year sales tax extension to fund projects that would decrease congestion and improve traffic flow.  

"We're very, very disappointed in the outcome of the election as far as Measure J is concerned," said Contra Costa Transportation Authority Director Randy Iwasaki.

Among many other projects, Northbound 680 will have to await for improved HOV lanes.

Also, the much needed improvements to the overcrowded interchange of 680 and Highway Four will be also be much delayed because the tax money not raised cannot be leveraged.

"We've leveraged our sales tax dollars three to one. So, for every dollar we allocate with sales tax, we bring in $3 of of somebody's else's money," said Mr. Iwasaki.

Also in transportation, Marin and Sonoma voters rejected extending a 1/4% sales tax measure to supply the SMART Train system with money it wanted to add stations and track to the existing line.

"Sales taxes are tough because they are regressive and there's a natural constituency that's not gonna vote for it. There's also a natural constituency that won't vote for transportation taxes because they never see any benefit from it," said Perata.

Walnut Creek taxi and Uber driver Rusi Baria put it this way. "Because the people at the top don't bother. They just don't want to do things which they don't like. The want to pass things which they think is correct," said Mr. Baria.

Again many local school and other improvement bonds did pass, but few, overwhelmingly.