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Lawsuit seeking to block California Democrats' tax hikes is tossed out

An appellate court says it cannot rule on the $9.3-billion package because the governor vetoed the legislation hours after the suit was filed.

January 08, 2009|Evan Halper

SACRAMENTO — A state appeals court Wednesday threw out a lawsuit that antitax activists and Republican lawmakers filed to nullify a package of tax hikes Democrats pushed through the Legislature.

The package, containing new and increased taxes on gasoline, sales and personal income, was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday, hours after the lawsuit was filed. The court said it could not intervene because the proposal had not been signed into law.

"Absent the Legislature's passage and the governor's signing of such legislation, adjudications of its constitutionality and the other matters raised by the petition are not yet ripe for judicial review," said the ruling from the 3rd Appellate District.

At issue were the untested maneuvers that Sacramento's dominant Democrats employed to pass the $9.3 billion in tax increases without a two-thirds vote of lawmakers. They used a complex strategy that hinged on the legal difference between taxes and fees, and passed the package on a simple majority, without any of the Republican votes they typically would have needed.

Every GOP legislator joined the lawsuit, which they said violated the provision in Proposition 13 that prohibits a simple majority of the Legislature from passing broad-based tax increases.

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evan.halper@latimes.com

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