Ballot measure gaining ground

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By JOSHUA WOLFSON

A ballot measure aimed at stopping state raids on local government funding is gathering support in the foothills.

The Sonora City Council Monday passed a resolution supporting the Local Taxpayers and Public Safety Protection Act. Other local governments are not far behind.

Supporters believe the measure, which they are working to place on the November ballot, would help wean state government off local dollars, said Sonora City Administrator Greg Applegate.

"This is going to say, 'no more dipping into the back pocket of local government," he said.

The California Attorney General's Office is expected to review the proposed initiative this month. Once language and form are approved, backers must collect 598,105 signatures to qualify it for the Nov. 2 statewide ballot.

The petition campaign is expected to begin early next year.

The measure stems from a decade of frustration on the part of cities and counties, who say the state uses local government revenues to solve its own financial problems.

"The cities have decided to take the kick-me sign off their backs," said Debbie Olson, a regional representative with the League of California Cities. "We don't want any bigger piece of pie. We don't want to take any money from another stake holder. We just want (our) money."

The measure, which would amend the California Constitution, covers cities, counties and special districts. It requires the state Legislature to get voter approval before taking locally-controlled money which can include property and sales taxes for its own use.

"It doesn't restrict them from appropriating local government revenue, it just says 'you need to go to a vote of the people and get approval to use this money,'" Olson said.

Proponents also say the amendment, sponsored by the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the California Special Districts Association, would insure that the Legislature reimburses local governments for state-mandated services.

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The Union Democrat
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