Allen Barron, Inc. is concerned about tax issues because people look to the firm as the experts on the IRS and taxation regulations at the federal, state and local levels. When news about tax laws appears on the horizon, it’s important for the tax experts to break down the information so clients can understand it.

One piece of news that is expected to have a large impact on California taxes actually isn’t about a tax law at all – or so it might seem at first. Governor Jerry Brown is changing state policy to move initiatives that amend the constitution to the top of upcoming ballots. Sounds simple enough. But, since Gov. Brown’s tax increase initiative proposes an amendment to the constitution, this policy change will directly affect possible changes in the state tax codes. So, what are the pros and cons of this policy change? There are interesting factors to consider on either side.

The Pros of the New Policy

It is true that any initiative to make an amendment to the constitution deserves to be carefully scrutinized, and this policy change will provide an opportunity to pay extra special attention to any proposed constitutional amendments that come up on the ballot. This can be viewed as a positive change compared to the previous policy that treated all initiatives in the same way. Lawmakers can better clarify the constitutional amendments on the ballot, and voters can better understand them. Some experts believe, however, that simply making it plain on the ballot that certain initiatives are proposing amendments to the constitution would be more effective. This policy change does not require clear language that explains the initiative is proposing a constitutional amendment; it only requires that such initiatives appear on the top of the ballot.

The Cons of the New Policy

This new policy will give an advantage to proposed constitutional amendments. In fact, it gives the tax initiative proposed by Gov. Brown and the California Democratic representatives an advantage. Opponents of this bill say there are too many amendments to the constitution to begin with, and new amendments should not be given political advantage. This policy might even encourage lawmakers to write more initiatives to amend the constitution when they would have otherwise been happy to write initiatives that simply change the law, and give more power to the wealthy special interest groups. It’s certainly an issue that has two sides.

 

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