Senate leader shelving local tax measure until 2012
The top Democrat in the state Senate said he is shelving until 2012 one of the year’s most explosive legislative gambits: a proposed law to grant cities, counties and more than 1,000 school districts broad new taxing authority.
The bill, which has already passed through the state Senate, would have allowed local officials, with approval of voters, to enact new taxes on things including income, cars, alcohol and medical marijuana. Business and taxpayer groups mobilized against it, threatening to fight it at the ballot.
In an interview, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he was tabling his measure as Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown work to stitch together a political alliance -- that would hopefully include some of the business groups angered by his bill -- to push for a statewide tax initiative next year.
“We don’t want to work at cross-purposes to build a broad-based coalition,” he said.
Steinberg said he would send the bill, SB 23 x 1, to the Assembly but didn’t plan to pursue it until the broader debate on statewide taxes occurred next year.
“I’m acutely aware of the sensitivity,” he said, “and the business community, by and large, really dislikes the measure.”
Steinberg's decision come as a new bipartisan poll by The Times and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences showed support for a narrower version of the idea he had floated. Nearly 60% of respondents said they would support a measure to allow local governments to ask voters for new taxes on cigarettes, sugary drinks, liquor and oil pumped from the ground.
-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento
Photo: Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), left, with state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on July 14. Credit: Rich Pedoncelli, Associated Press