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Fresno Bee: Local tax hikes cleverly packaged

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Over the past few years, voters in hundreds of California cities and other local governments were asked to pass tax increases, and indications are that another big batch of local tax measures will be on this year’s ballots.

All but a handful of the previous tax hikes were approved, although one failed sales tax, in Coalinga, was unique. It lost by just 33 votes because of an overwhelming vote against it by residents of Coalinga State Hospital, an institution for the mentally ill, who apparently didn’t want prices to rise for their personal sundries.

One could conclude that the high passage rate for most cities reflects voters’ faith that those they elected to city councils and other governing bodies would spend the additional tax revenues wisely.

Perhaps so, but they also reflect some very clever, even propagandistic, packaging of the tax proposals by political consultants who boast of their ability to overcome resistance to such measures.

Local governments cannot, by law, directly finance campaigns to win voter approval of new taxes. However, local officials can – and quite often do – hire consulting firms to test voter sentiment in advance, design tax proposals to give them the best chance of winning approval, and design supposedly educational mailers and other materials that portray the taxes in positive terms.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/political-notebook/article206661809.html#storylink=cpy

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