Signature-Gathering Blitz Needed to Qualify Tax Hike Extension for CA Ballot

The California Teachers Association and other labor unions backing an extension of the state’s temporary income tax hike are well-suited to gather petition signatures. But they have a busy couple of weeks ahead of them to even get it on the November ballot.

CTA president Eric Heins told the union’s State Council last weekend that 60 percent of the 585,407 required signatures had been collected. Other CTA state officials told activists that the union had pledged to gather 150,000 of those, but that they were “nowhere near that.”

There are two different deadlines for submitting signature to the state, depending on which method of counting one needs. The deadline for full counting has already passed, leaving initiative backers with an April 26 deadline to submit 110% of the needed signatures, or 643,948. CTA is asking volunteers to place those petitions into the state union’s hands by April 22.

Members will be crucial in reaching the required number, but the bulk of the work will have to be done by paid signature-gatherers. To that end, the State Council increased the spending authorization from the union’s Initiative Fund from $3 million to $5 million.

In my estimation, there is no way the coalition of unions will allow this to fail due to lack of signatures. They will devote all their energy and resources to it. Let’s hope county and state election officials put as much effort into verification.