Tax Measures Everywhere — For What Purposes?

The coming March 3 California primary election is not simply about the presidential contest and legislative races, it’s also about taxes—big time. Voters will decide on a record 231 local tax and bond measures (backed by taxes) across the state.

The California Taxpayers Association amassed a listing of the 231 measures, which cover the gambit from general obligation bonds funded by property taxes to parcel taxes to cannabis taxes to document transfer taxes to sales taxes to hotel taxes. According to brief summaries of the multiple tax measures the money will go for schools, parks, law enforcement, road paving, open spaces and all kinds of government services – or will it?

Never mentioned in any of the descriptions is the hidden cost driver for many local governments and schools– pension liabilities.

The story is well told. As University of California Public Policy and Political Science professor Sarah Anzia summed up her article in the Washington Post last summer, “Out of the public eye, public-sector pension expenditures are quietly and persistently eating into local government budgets.”

According to CalTax, the number of measures marks a 165-percent increase over the last presidential primary. In June 2016, voters were presented with 87 local tax and bond measures and approved 67.

The dramatic increase in the number of taxes can be directly tied to the need for government entities to deal with their pension obligations. While the funds raised by the taxes may not go directly into pensions, the new money can replace dollars that can be shifted to fund the pensions. Even the school bonds could have some effect on money needed for pensions. While the bond money is spent on school construction or maintenance, no money for maintenance need be taken from a school’s general funds, making that money available for other purposes like pensions and guaranteed health care.

In a recent report on school funding, the Legislative Analyst noted that despite exceptional growth in school funding in recent years, “Pension costs have been the most significant compensation pressure facing districts. Since 2013‑14, districts’ pension costs have increased by $4.7 billion—more than doubling. For 2020‑21, we expect total school district pension costs to increase by at least another $800 million.”

The problem also exists for local governments. A couple of years ago the League of California Cities issued a report that said over a twenty-year period the percentage of city budgets statewide would  double for pension payouts from around 8% in 2006 to nearly 16% in 2025. In some cities that percentage has already been topped. Los Angeles City puts aside about 20% of its budget for pensions.

So sure, the tax increases will bring more money in for schools, parks, law enforcement, road paving, open spaces and all kinds of government services, but a healthy portion of that revenue or the money it replaces will end up in pensions. For the sake of transparency, supporters of the tax increases should tell the voters. Let them decide if that’s a good reason to raise more taxes.

 Joel Fox is editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

Comments

  1. PENSIONS & freebies for votes

  2. The Captive says

    I voted a BIG NO ON ALL THOSE BONDS that the corrupt Democraps have on the ballot. The schools have PLENTY of the money but they refuse to distribute it honestly. Oh yeah the word HONEST does not exist for the corrupt and criminal Democraps ! Why should I go on-If these corrupt individuals will not be voted out of office then the whole state will fry because the water was not SAVED IN SAFE PLACES!
    Oh God get me otta’ here!

  3. Bad management!
    When your representative cannot manage, nor live within an already hugel budget they will come to you for more money. Because they think you are a moron and will you will believe anything they tell you.
    Well….Wake up Californian, your legislatures job is to take your money, and as much as they can. If they cannot do it legitimately, they will lie and then steal it from you.
    As a voter you need to get smart about your vote and you can start by not voting for any Democrat. The balance of power needs, dramatically needs to shift to the right before the financial collapse comes. Adjustments need to be need in our government relationship with taxes, gov’t retirements and benefits, schools, unions, prison guards, state resources – cash and natural, and the management of current budgets resources.
    The rape of the Peoples bank accounts needs to stop!

  4. Graph and kickbacks!

    Voters in California have elected people to look out after our best interest HA HA HA. Those people are driving people and business out of the state. Voters have a death wish soon they wont be able to pay their property tax. The very reason prop 13 was voted in.

    All he democratic party has to offer are tax increases. California voters get what they deserve. They vote to increase perks for retirees and pensions that are not sustainable. Schools cannot justify taxes thrown on the public.Cities and counties cannot justify the insane Salaries paid their so called top administrators. Police and fire department employees retire at what they were making at retirement age.

    They live the good life how about the voters?

  5. Voters in California have elected people to look out after our best interest HA HA HA. Those people are driving people and business out of the state. Voters have a death wish soon they wont be able to pay their property tax. The very reason prop 13 was voted in.

    All he democratic party has to offer are tax increases. California voters get what they deserve. They vote to increase perks for retirees and pensions that are not sustainable. Schools cannot justify taxes thrown on the public.Cities and counties cannot justify the insane Salaries paid their so called top administrators. Police and fire department employees retire at what they were making at retirement age.

    They live the good life how about the voters?

  6. Yes, California needs lots of help. And solutions are possible, but not overnight.

    And Help can only come from the OUTSIDE of the state now, not from within.

    The Trump and Federal gov are on to this. They have already begun to work on the major things.
    Progress will be made, and things will be corrected – gradually – as they were implemented over time.

    This election has a lot on the line and that is scary, but with fraudulent voter system, and corrupt everything else, this will be brought to light at worst case scenario, with results of the election not valid once the light is shining on all of it.

  7. California resident and me and my friends all voted NO on every single TAX MEASURE..The SOCIALIST NAZI DEMOCRATES control every aspect of California government. They are bought and paid for by the unions. The states voting system is CORRUPT and MEXICANS ARE VOTING….

  8. TheRandyGuy says

    Voters are stupid. Put the terms “safety”, “children”, or “schools” in the title and it passes. We do it to ourselves.

    • James Healey says

      TRUE! SAY NO TO ALL BONDS!!! Jim H.

      • It’s never enough and it’s never going to be enough. I too vote NO on everything here in San Francisco but it’s no use. Everything always passes anyway. Look at the High Speed Rail. They need another One Billion Dollars. I’m just shocked, Shocked I say. (No not really). How about this gas tax we are all paying. You should see highway 101 here from San Francisco to Millbrae near the airport. If there is a piece of highway worse than this I haven’t seen it .In March here in San Francisco the voters will pass a tax on commercial space that sits empty. This may come as a surprise to some politicians but have they not heard of Amazon and Ebay plus other on line sites. I think the high minimum wage could be hurting too.I known I can’t afford to eat out anymore like in the past. Well here we are today the answer to all the problems in this state is to just tax something more and more. My only question is when there’s no more money coming from the poor tax payer where will the money come from then?? May God have mercy on all our souls.

    • It violates the law (AB-195) to put partial, argumentative, and prejudicial language on the ballot. Local governing bodies haven’t even blinked since the law became effective in 2018. It’s going to take election contests to set the elections aside under the new law to change their bad behavior. I’m aware of 11 contests filed since July 2018. Some of those are now on appeal.

      But win or lose on appeal, it won’t undo any election that hasn’t been contested.

      There are 238 tax measures on local ballots around the state for March 2020. More than 90% of them will pass, because of cheating on the ballot language. Who’s going to stop complaining and take responsibility for making the cheaters lose?

  9. You’re told to come here, given housing vouchers, free education and health care, run the gambit of weekend pantry charities, work under the table….. Nirvana.

    • It’s never enough and it’s never going to be enough. I too vote NO on everything here in San Francisco but it’s no use. Everything always passes anyway. Look at the High Speed Rail. They need another One Billion Dollars. I’m just shocked, Shocked I say. (No not really). How about this gas tax we are all paying. You should highway 101 here from San Francisco to Millbrae near the airport. If there is a piece of highway worse than this I haven’t seen it .In March here in San Francisco the voters will pass a tax on commercial space that sits empty. This may come as a surprise to some politicians but have they not heard of Amazon and Ebay plus other on line sites. I think the high minimum wage could be hurting too.I known I can afford to eat out anymore like in the past. Well here we are today the answer to all the problems in this state is to just tax something more and more. My only question is when there’s no more money coming from the poor tax payer where will the money come from then?? May God have mercy on all our souls.

      • I made a couple of errors in my comment. I wanted to say you should SEE Highway 101 from San Francisco to Millbrae. Worse piece of roadway. Also I meant to say that I Can’t afford to eat out anymore. High Minimum wage, Soda tax, Healthy San Francisco tax, Global warming tax. IT all adds up. Thank You.

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