Newsom’s lawyers believe voters aren’t capable of making informed decisions about taxes | Opinion

On May 8, lawyers for Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and Senate Leader Mike McGuire appeared before the California Supreme Court in an effort to invalidate the Taxpayer Protection Act, a duly qualified statewide ballot measure slated for the November 2024 ballot.

It is nearly unprecedented for opponents of a hotly debated measure to use the courts to take something off the ballot before voters have had the chance to decide at the ballot box.

Californians have a protected right to use direct democracy via initiatives and referendums. Opponents typically defer to voters before trying to use the courts to effectively cancel an election, but that is not the case here. And we learned why on May 8, when opponents and proponents of the Taxpayer Protection Act made their case before the California Supreme Court.


The governor and legislative leaders — using taxpayer dollars no less — are arguing that the Taxpayer Protection Act is an illegal revision of the California constitution. Why? Because it lets voters, not politicians, have the final say on all future new and higher taxes. They argue that this is a “fundamental” shift in power and that it would drastically change how the legislature operates.

But during arguments at the Supreme Court, we had the opportunity to better understand the true motive behind the Democrat effort to remove the act from the ballot before voters can weigh in: Their lawyers told the court that voters are not capable of making informed decisions about when their taxes are raised and how their taxes are spent.

Yes, you read that correctly. Newsom’s lawyers made it clear to the court that politicians in Sacramento are the professionals and voters just can’t grasp the intricacies of tax policy — and, therefore, cannot be trusted with that power.

While running his shadow campaign for president, Newsom loves to lecture other states about the need to protect democracy and people’s rights. Apparently, his support ends at California’s borders. Newsom seems eager to roll back our voters’ rights to democratically make decisions about how they are taxed.

You just can’t make this kind of hypocrisy up.

These arguments come on the heels of the governor’s narrow victory with Proposition 1, which asked the voters to approve a bond to help address the state’s out-of-control homelessness crisis. Maybe it’s a bit of sour grapes from Newsom, who was so shocked by the results of Prop. 1 that he postponed for months his constitutionally required State of the State address.

Over the past five years, the state has spent more than $24 billion of taxpayer money to address homelessness. Is the state’s homelessness crisis $24 billion better? No. In fact, it’s worse. So where did the billions go and how many homeless people were served as a result? Well, according to a recent hearing at the State Capitol, Newsom’s administration admitted that no one really knows the answers. No one was held accountable for results, and state officials don’t know who ultimately got the taxpayer funds, how it was used and how many homeless people were served.

Maybe that’s why voters were so hesitant to support Proposition 1: not because they’re not smart enough to understand taxation, but because they are smart enough to know when their tax dollars are being wasted.

The Taxpayer Protection Act will hold Newsom and state legislators accountable for the tax dollars they spend and make them accountable to the people of California. It’s this accountability that the governor and legislature are so desperate to stop. It will force our elected officials to be better stewards of Californians’ money and ensure they are spending that money on voters’ priorities, not helping out special interest allies behind closed doors, under the protection of non-disclosure agreements.

I am optimistic that the Supreme Court will see through the governor’s political posturing and respect 130 years of precedent to uphold voters’ constitutional right to act as the final check and balance of their government.

Asm. James Gallagher represents Assembly District 3, located in the northern Sacramento Valley.