California Proposition 172

172 was on the November 2, 1993 general election ballot in California as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

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."

 

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One of Proposition 172’s architects, Political consultant Frank Caterinicchio told the Los Angeles Times in 1997, "People saw footage day after day of homes burning up and down the state and the heroic efforts of firefighters," he said. Even without the raging wildfires, the measure had received support from all major law enforcement and fire service organizations. The Governor at the time, Pete Wilson, spoke in favor of Proposition 172 at CSFA’s Annual Conference in Santa Barbara.