California Proposition 172, Sales Tax Increase (1993)
Proposition 172 put a one-half percent state sales tax rate in the Section 35, Article XIII of the California Constitution, effective January 1, 1994. According to Prop 172, all revenues from the additional one-half percent sales tax can be used only for local public safety activities, to include police and sheriffs' departments, fire protection, county district attorneys, county probation, and county jail operations.
Proposition 172 has the distinction of being the only tax increase approved in a special election by California's voters in the 30 years from 1980-2010.
According to Joel Fox, "Outside events can influence the outcome of elections. In 1993, during a special election, a half-cent state sales tax that was about to expire was put on the ballot to be made permanent, if the voters agreed. The tax was dedicated to local public safety, including fire protection. Right before Election Day, devastating fires broke out around Southern California. The blazes consumed over 1,000 structures. Laguna Beach was hit hard as was Sierra Madre and Malibu. Ten days went by from the start of the first fire until the last one was extinguished – a period that extended beyond Election Day. While seven measures were on the 1993 special election ballot, only two passed, including the tax measure with nearly 58% of the vote."
Text of measure
The ballot title was:
- LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY PROTECTION AND IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 1993. LEGISLATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
The ballot summary was:
- This measure would provide a dedicated revenue source for public safety purposes.
- Revenue would be distributed to cities and counties for purposes such as police, sheriffs, fire, district attorneys and corrections.
- If this measure is approved by a majority of the state's voters, the tax would be collected in all counties. However, a county would be eligible to receive tax revenues beginning January 1, 1994, only if the board of supervisors votes to participate or voters within the county approve the measure by majority vote.
The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:
- Effective January 1, 1994, generates approximately $714 million in fiscal year 1993-94, and $1.5 billion annually thereafter, in additional sales tax revenue for counties and cities.
Path to the ballot
The California State Legislature voted to put Proposition 172 on the ballot in Senate Constitutional Amendment 1 (Statutes of 1993, Resolution Chapter 41).
- Official voter pamphlet for the 1993 special election in California
- Full text of Proposition 172
- Hastings California I&R database
- Los Angeles Law Library, 1993 ballot propositions