Newsom Faces Backlash: California’s Business Community Says Enough is Enough

Sheila Fitzgerald /
Sheila Fitzgerald /

In the latest episode of “California’s Fiscal Hunger Games,” a band of businesses, with their sights set on Governor Gavin Newsom and his merry band of Democrats, are bringing out the big guns over what they claim are sky-high taxes in the ever-glamorous Golden State.

A group of California companies are challenging Governor Gavin Newsom and his Democratic colleagues due to the state’s excessively high taxes. These businesses have successfully collected enough signatures to place a proposition on the ballot this November. The proposition would mandate a two-thirds majority for the approval of most local tax hikes and repeal certain recently implemented taxes. If passed, this measure would mark a pivotal shift in California’s governmental funding model, reminiscent of the transformative Proposition 13 from 1978, which drastically restricted property tax increases.

The proponents, waving the banner of fiscal sanity, argue this draconian measure is the only way to stop the relentless tax hikes turning California into a no-go zone for businesses, essentially sending them packing to more tax-friendly climes like Texas and Florida. Leading the charge, real estate moguls in Southern California are throwing in big bucks, likely still smarting from a luxury home sales tax LA thought was a good idea in 2022.

Governor Newsom, municipal authorities, and labor unions are painting doomsday scenarios. They claim that this proposal would significantly impact the funding of essential services like waste management and firefighting, making fiscal planning more complicated.

The business bloc has already forked over a cool $16 million to ask voters to stop the tax madness. The companies involved are preparing for a potentially costly campaign battle, with political experts predicting significant spending on advertisements from both sides.

The proposed measure, dubbed the Taxpayer Protection Act by its advocates, would increase the majority requirement for local tax increases to two-thirds. It also stipulates that any tax increases passed by the legislature must receive statewide voter approval by a majority vote. Furthermore, it would retroactively annul specific tax increases enacted since 2022 that do not comply with the new standards, a provision critics argue could be particularly destabilizing.

This battle royale isn’t the first rodeo for tax tiffs in California, but this time around, the California Business Roundtable isn’t looking for a handshake deal with legislators. It’s all systems go, with real estate in the crosshairs, fighting against a backdrop of business exodus fears and fiscal frustrations. This latest dispute is a continuation of the long-standing debate between those advocating for ample funding for services in a state known for its progressive stances and those who argue that high costs are making California unattractive to both businesses and families.

In a notable move, Newsom and various government leaders have publicly advertised a campaign criticizing major corporations associated with the California Business Roundtable for supporting what they describe as a perilous, overreaching, and irresponsible measure.

In Walnut Creek, a Bay Area suburb, officials worry that passing this measure would necessitate repealing a recently passed sales tax increase, which is currently funding vital community services. This exemplifies the potential wide-reaching implications of the measure.

After several failures to negotiate tax-related initiatives in the past, the California Business Roundtable is now pushing ahead with a firm resolve to tackle the challenges faced by local businesses, the real estate sector, and other related industries. With a clear focus on creating sustainable and long-lasting solutions, the California Business Roundtable aims to provide a much-needed boost to the real estate industry and the broader economy as a whole.

So, as the sun sets on this saga of fiscal feuding and political posturing, it’s the everyday Californians who’ll deliver the final verdict in this gladiatorial arena of taxes and tantrums. And let’s not forget, should the business brigade emerge victorious, we’ll be waving a teary goodbye to the freewheeling days of open tax season. It’ll be a brave new world where “two-thirds” becomes the magic number, not just for passing local taxes but for entering the annals of California tax lore.