The 3rd District Court of Appeals in California will examine whether Democratic lawmakers violated state law by using a majority-vote budget bill (AB 1499) to move Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) compromise tax hike initiative higher on the November ballot, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The review comes in response to a lawsuit that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed Monday over the Legislature's action (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 7/11).
Background on the Budget Bill
Last month, Brown signed the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget deal, which includes revenue from a compromise tax plan developed by Brown and supporters of the "Millionaires Tax."
As part of the budget agreement, Brown approved AB 1499, which prioritizes bonds and constitutional amendments on voting ballots.
Since Brown's compromise tax hike plan is considered a constitutional amendment, it would be placed near the top of the ballot under AB 1499.
Details of the Allegations From HJTA
Jon Coupal -- president of HJTA -- said AB 1499 violates the state constitution by changing the ballot order through a majority-vote budget bill (California Healthline, 7/10).
The group argues that measure is unrelated to carrying out the provisions of the state's $91.3 billion general fund budget (Sacramento Bee, 7/11).
Coupal said, "I think the broader issue here is of the electoral process, and this bill was designed to give one specific measure preference on the ballot" (California Healthline, 7/10).
Legislature Defends Ballot Ordering
Last week, attorneys for the Legislature argued in a court filing that lawmakers have the authority to determine what constitutes a budget bill. They also noted that the bill's inclusion of a $1,000 expenditure qualifies it as an appropriation under the constitution (Sacramento Bee, 7/11).
They wrote, "Because AB 1499 indisputably contains an appropriation and, equally indisputably, was explicitly identified by the Legislature in the budget bill as 'related to the budget,' it meets the only criteria that are pertinent under the California Constitution" (California Healthline, 7/9).
The appeals court has asked Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) and state lawmakers to demonstrate by July 30 why the November ballot ordering should stand.
The court has not asked Bowen to rescind the numbers she has assigned to the ballot initiatives (Sacramento Bee, 7/11).