California Constitution Article XIII B Section 6
In County of Sonoma v. Commission on State Mandates (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 1264, the court stated that California Constitution article XIII B, section 6 was designed to prevent the state from forcing programs on local governments, and such a forced program is one which results in "increased actual expenditures of limited tax proceeds that are counted against the local government's spending limit.
Section 6, located within a measure aimed at limiting expenditures, is expressly concerned with 'costs' incurred by local governments as a result of state-mandated programs, particularly when the costs of compliance with a new program restrict local spending in other areas." ( County of Sonoma, at p. 1284.)
In County of Los Angeles v. State of California (1987) 43 Cal.3d 46, Labor Code sections 4453, 4453.1 and 4460, increased the maximum weekly wage upon which temporary and permanent disability indemnity was computed from $ 231 to $ 262.50 per week. In addition, Labor Code section 4702 increased certain death benefits from $ 55,000 to $ 75,000.
The trial court held that because the changes did not exceed costs of living changes, they did not create an "increased level of service." ( 43 Cal.3d at p. 52.)
The County argued the terms of California Constitution article XIII B, section 6, do not contain an exception for increased costs which do not exceed the inflation rate. ( 43 Cal.3d at p. 53.)
The County relied on certain repealed Revenue and Taxation Code definitions which had equated any program which imposed "additional costs" as being within the constitutional provision of "increased level of service." ( Id. at p. 53.)
County of Los Angeles rejected this interpretation. "If the Legislature had intended to continue to equate 'increased level of service' with 'additional costs,' then the provision would be circular: 'costs mandated by the state' are defined as 'increased costs' due to an 'increased level of service,' which, in turn, would be defined as 'additional costs.'" ( Id. at p. 55.)
An examination of the language of California Constitution article XIII B, section 6 shows that "by itself, the term 'higher level of service' is meaningless." (Id. at p. 56) Rather, it must be read in conjunction with the phrase " 'new program.' " (Ibid.)
"Thus read, it is apparent that the subvention requirement for increased or higher level of service is directed to state mandated increases in the services provided by local agencies in existing 'programs.' " (Ibid.)
By "program," the voters meant "programs that carry out the governmental function of providing services to the public, or laws which, to implement a state policy, impose unique requirements on local governments and do not apply generally to all residents and entities in the state." The ballot materials provided that article XIII B, section 6 would "not allow the state government to force programs on local governments without the state paying for them." ( 43 Cal.3d at p. 56.)
"Laws of general application are not passed by the Legislature to 'force' programs on localities." ( Id. at p. 57.)
In light of this, "the language of section 6 is far too vague to support an inference that it was intended that each time the Legislature passes a law of general application it must discern the likely effect on local governments and provide an appropriation to pay for any incidental increase in local costs ... If the electorate had intended such a far-reaching construction of section 6, the language would have explicitly indicated that the word 'program' was being used in such a unique fashion." ( Id. at p. 57.)
Therefore, there was no need to pay for the increase in worker's compensation, because it is not a program administered by local agencies to provide service to the general public. Local government entities are indistinguishable in this respect from private employers. ( Id. at pp. 57-58.)
In City of Sacramento v. State of California, supra, 50 Cal.3d 51, chapter 2 of Statutes of 1978 extended mandatory coverage under the state's unemployment insurance laws to include state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.
City of Sacramento held there was no obligation on the part of the state to provide funds because there was no "unique" obligation imposed upon local governments, nor was there any requirement of new or increased governmental services. ( 50 Cal.3d at p. 57.)
As the court stated, the measure was adopted to conform California's system to federal laws. ( Id. at p. 58 .)
Because the measure required local governments to provide unemployment benefits to their own employees, the state had not compelled provision of a new or increased level of service to the public at the local level. Rather, it had merely required local government to provide the same benefits as private employers. ( Id. at p. 67.)
The purpose of California Constitution article XIII B, section 6 was to avoid governmental programs from being forced on localities by the state: Therefore, programs which are not unique to the government do not qualify. ( 50 Cal.3d at p. 67.)
In County of Sonoma v. Commission on State Mandates (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 1264, the challenged legislation added section 97.03 to the Revenue and Taxation Code, and reduced the amount of property tax revenue to be allocated to local government pursuant to a formula, allocating an equal portion to a "Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF)" for distribution to school districts. ( 84 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1269-1270, 1275.)
The net effect of the legislation was to decrease counties' tax revenues, although school revenues remained stable, and satisfied the constitutional necessity of maintaining a minimum level of funding for schools pursuant to California Constitution article XVI, section 8. ( 84 Cal.App.4th at p. 1276.)
In County of Sonoma, the County argued that the reallocation of tax revenues constituted a state-mandated cost of a new program. ( Id. at p. 1276 .)
The court held that section 6 subvention was limited to "increases in actual costs." Because none of the County's tax revenues were expended, the legislation did not come within section 6. "Proposition 4 the initiative enacting article XIII B was aimed at controlling and capping government spending, not curbing changes in revenue allocations. Section 6 is an obvious complement to the goal of Proposition 4 in that it prevents the state from forcing extra programs on local governments in a manner that negates their careful budgeting of expenditures. A forced program that would negate such planning is one that results in increased actual expenditures of limited tax proceeds that are counted against the local government's spending limit. Section 6, located within a measure aimed at limiting expenditures, is expressly concerned when 'costs' incurred by local government as a result of state-mandated programs, particularly with the costs of compliance with a new program restrict local spending in other areas." ( 84 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1283-1284.)
County of Sonoma discerned a further requirement of California Constitution article XIII B, section 6 : that the costs incurred must involve programs previously funded exclusively by the state.
In imposing this limitation, County of Sonoma relied on language in County of San Diego v. State of California, supra, 15 Cal.4th 68 that "section 6 prohibits the state from shifting to counties the costs of state programs for which the state assumed complete financial responsibility before adoption of section 6." ( County of San Diego v. State of California, supra, 15 Cal.4th 68 at p. 99, fn. 20.)
County of Sonoma determined that because the statute at issue only involved a reallocation of funds between entities already jointly responsible for providing a service (education), no state-mandated reimbursable program existed. ( County of Sonoma v. Commission on State Mandates, supra, 84 Cal.App.4th at p. 1289.)