Your guide to Proposition 5: Making it easier to pass local housing, road bonds

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(Los Angeles Times)

Proposition 5 aims to make it easier to pass local bond measures for affordable housing, transportation, parks and other infrastructure.

What will the measure do?

Currently, most local bond proposals require a two-thirds vote of the public to be approved. If voters pass Proposition 5, this threshold will be lowered to 55% for bonds supporting low-income housing, road and transit expansions, parks, wildfire resilience and other public infrastructure projects.

The existing supermajority requirement for local bond approval goes back to the series of tax restrictions in California's Constitution inaugurated by the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.

Because of a prior ballot measure, the threshold for approval for local school construction bonds already has been lowered to 55%.

If Proposition 5 passes, it would affect all future local bond campaigns covered by the measure, including those concurrently on the November ballot.

Most notably, Bay Area officials are asking voters in November to approve a $20-billion bond to finance various affordable housing programs in that region, the largest housing bond in the state's history. Proposition 5's approval would mean that the Bay Area measure would need the support of only 55% of voters to pass rather than two-thirds.

Who are the supporters?

Backers of Proposition 5 include labor, affordable housing and local government interests among others. Principal supporters are labor groups representing firefighters and construction workers. These organizations contend that it should be easier for voters to approve government financing for needed housing and other public projects.

Who are the opponents?

Opponents include an array of business and taxpayer groups, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. They argue that Proposition 5 will erode taxpayer protections against government spending and result in higher taxes.

How much money has been raised?

Why is this on the ballot?

California legislators put Proposition 5 on the ballot themselves. Initially, a broader version of Proposition 5 was planned. But in late June lawmakers amended the measure to eliminate a provision that would have also lowered the threshold to pass local tax increases designated for a specific purpose from two-thirds to 55%. Legislators cited concern about whether voters would support that change, and narrowed Proposition 5 to its current language.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.