San Jose’s labor and business leaders have united behind Measure B.
This isn’t the city’s pension-reforming Measure B, which pit the two groups against each other when voters approved it in 2012.
Nor is it the the water parcel tax Measure B, which voters approved later that year.
It’s not even the Measure B of 2014, which extended a parcel tax for the city’s libraries.
No, this new Measure B, coming up on the June 7 ballot, would increase the sales tax by a quarter-cent for the next 15 years. Proponents want to spend its $40 million-or-so-a-year revenue on public safety and street repairs. If that sounds familiar, look no further than the countywide Measure B from 2010.
In a Monday press conference, Mayor Sam Liccardo joined county Supervisor Cindy Chavez to tout the measure as a fix for the city’s short-staffed police force and fire stations. Joining them were San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce President Matt Mahood, San Jose Fire Fighters IAFF Local 230 head Sean Kaldor, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association’s James Gonzales and the South Bay Labor Council’s Ben Field.
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) April 25, 2016
Critics, however, point out that sales taxes are regressive, coming down harder on the poor, the homeless and people living on fixed-incomes. The Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association urged the city to pare back expenses before asking for a new pay bump.
“What does the City Council think is more important than police, fire, and roads?” the group wondered in its official rebuttal, which was filed through the City Clerk’s office and co-signed by Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio. “Answer: three golf courses, a luxury hotel, the Mexican Heritage Plaza, and millions to subsidize art groups that go bankrupt.”
Plus, it’s a general sales tax, which means there’s no guarantee the latest Measure B would pay for what’s promised. The upside for backers is that it requires only a simple majority vote to pass, as opposed to the supermajority threshold of a special tax.
The measure does call for annual audits and a citizen oversight board to keep an eye on where the money goes. San Jose’s police and fire unions say the tax would help them hire new recruits.
Every year or so, San Jose voters weigh in on a new Measure B because of the way election officials christen ballot initiatives. Santa Clara County’s Registrar of Voters picks measure letters based on the order they’re filed and their order on the ballot, according to the agency’s spokesman, Philip Chantri.
San Jose’s City Clerk Toni Taber said the entity’s size also figures into the naming. In this region, that means the order goes: county, city of San Jose, other cities largest to smallest, special districts, school districts and so on.
Certain letters are off limits, at least for some agencies. School district measures never get assigned a “D” or “F,” because of their association with failing grades.
— SJSV Chamber (@SJSVChamber) April 25, 2016