California cities, counties, school districts and special districts have placed a record-high 265 local revenue measures on ballots this fall.
You’d think that local governments wouldn’t be facing a financial squeeze these days, with the economy recovering and tax revenues up.
“Unfortunately, that’s a false perception,” says Michael Coleman with the League of California Cities, who tracks local revenue measures each election cycle. “It’s not that these agencies are spending on program increases; I would not call it a spending problem in that sense. Instead, the costs of doing business are going up,” especially for infrastructure, water and pensions.
As for the record 113 school bonds this fall, there are three factors: Pent-up demand for maintenance projects, the end of the recession, and a push to piggyback on a potential statewide school bond that ended up not making the November ballot.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says there may be more effective ways to pay for school construction than bond measures. It also warns that most sales tax measures would go toward unfunded pension debt.