It was a late Friday evening last week in downtown Sacramento.
A forum was hosted by SEIU Local 1000 and featured Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg.
The issue at hand during the debate was the City of Sacramento’s Ballot Measure U, which renews a 2012 sales tax increase. The measure also adds another half-cents in sales taxes to the old one. It also makes these sales tax increases permanent.
Steinberg’s opponent was Craig Powell, President of Eye On Sacramento which is a local group that watches government actions. Powell is also Chair of the No On Measure U Campaign.
The tension in the air was thick. The two sparred for over an hour. Afterwards, they left the room so members and guests could discuss what they heard.
Issues discussed included the effect of the sales tax increase on poor and working families in Sacramento, at a time when rents are rising. Also at issue, was the City of Sacramento’s coming budget deficit. So were salaries for City workers, and much more.
The topic of accountability for old and new sales tax dollars was a key part of the discussion.
Steinberg argued that any negative effect of increasing sales taxes on poor and working families would be offset by investments in those same communities. He also said the pension deficits could be handled by growing jobs in the City, which would allow the City to meet its financial needs.
Powell said it was unfair to raise taxes on families, especially when families are dealing with high rents. He also said the pension crisis would prevent the City from making any of the investments the Mayor promised.
In addition, Steinberg and Powell also sparred over whether a sales tax increase was actually needed.
Steinberg said the increase would keep core City services up and running. However, Powell said that there were alternatives to raising taxes on struggling families. As proof, Powell offered up a 39 page document with 22 ideas for reducing the City’s budget, without raising sales taxes.
A Boon For Elk Grove: If the City of Sacramento raises sales taxes this November, is that good or bad for retail sales in Elk Grove?
On one hand, raising sales taxes in Sacramento could encourage people to shop in Elk Grove. Or it could encourage our city to adopt a similar measure. Although Sacramento is very close to Elk Grove, there are vast differences between the cities including the size of the population, demographics, the pace of development and type of development, and the way each city is run.
One thing is for sure, however. If the sales tax increase is passed by Sacramento voters, we’ll know the answer to that question very soon.
See the ballot measure here: http://sacramento.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=21&event_id=3265&meta_id=529895
See the alternatives presented here: http://eyeonsacramento.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Blueprint-for-a-Post-Measure-U-Sacto-FINAL.pdf