Smoke Out The SANDAG Tax And Spend Republicans On the City Councils

Brian Brady Brian Brady 13 Comments

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I have fielded a number of calls in the last two weeks, from Republicans who were upset with my “no new taxes” stance on the SANDAG tax hike. Many elected Republicans didn’t want to have to shoulder the responsibility for this tax hike — they thought they could hide behind the “let the people decide” curtain. The SANDAG staff and many special interest groups have been telling them to do just that.

Let me offer a life line to the elected Republicans who want to vote to put the tax hike on the ballot: Delay the vote until you get an up or down signal from your City Council. Introduce a resolution in your City Council meeting with these words:

The City Of XXXX supports the half-cent sales tax increase to fund the SANDAG transportation initiative.”

Put this resolution on the agenda verbatim. If you reword the resolution to support a public ballot, you will dilute its efficacy. This resolution gives you the cover to vote against the resolution but take direction from the Council majority which wants you to support the SANDAG initiative.

More importantly, it makes your City Council members take a solid position on new taxes. Some of you are up for re-election or seeking higher office and, if your opponents support this tax hike, you can point that out to the voters this Fall. The SANDAG tax hike is very unpopular with the voters; more than half don’t even want it on the ballot. Only $600 million of the projected $18 billion tax, is needed for freeway lanes expansion. The rest of the money is used to bribe city councils (with the promise of more non-earmarked funds), build more bike paths, buy “open space” land for environmentalist groups, empower labor unions with more dues, build a trolley line to Carmel Valley, and construct a “sky gondola”.

If you ask voters if they want freeway lanes expanded, they support a tax hike. To expand those lanes, though, you would only need a tax hike of 1/100 of a penny. When the public learns that the half cent sales tax is thirty times what is needed to achieve the critical mission, opposition reaches as high as 2/3.

“Why oppose the ballot initiative if it’s inevitably going to fail?” you might ask. A ballot initiative is going to require an organized effort of time and money to battle the millions of dollars the labor unions, environmental groups, and contractors will spend to pass it — the same groups which support your opposition this Fall. In short, if taxpayer protection groups have to spend money opposing this measure (and we will), there will less money for the Republicans who oppose any and all new taxes.

If you think voting “no” — because this is a new tax — will make you look “unreasonable,” vote “no” until you get guidance from your respective City Councils — then we get to see who the real tax and spend Republicans are…

unless YOU are one of those tax and spend Republicans. Vote yes then and deal with the consequences this November.

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Comments 13

  1. Brian, It is unlikely that La Mesa would vote to put it on the ballot as currently outlined. The plan (as many SANDAG Board Members have pointed out) is not balanced in the allocation of funds between the various transportation needs. There are also some remaining unknowns which our Council would need to have answers to.

    But, I would not have any problem putting something sane on the ballot for the people to decide, even if I personally was against it. It’s not a cop out to “let the people decide” .The people are rightfully the decision makers when it comes to raising sales taxes. Annulling that right appears to me to be the antithesis of good government. 19 people in a board room should not decide for all those living in the County whether or not they want a tax increase. The people should decide.

    If government is to tax, the tax should be used in a manner that is responsible and serves the needs of as many people in the County as possible. That is where the need for accountability from elected officials comes – they should not allow proposals containing pie-in-the-sky spending of the taxpayers money on frivolity (or football stadiums) to even get to the ballot . Presenting a measure that if approved and raises taxes, produces results for those who are paying those taxes is what elected officials should be considering.

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    ” It’s not a cop out to “let the people decide” .

    Oh I disagree, Kristine. You sought the Republican Party endorsement when you ran– the default position of the Republican Party of San Diego County has always been to oppose any and all taxes. When you requested the endorsement, you requested to be identified by that “brand”.

    “The people are rightfully the decision makers when it comes to raising sales taxes.”

    Agreed. The people “decided” when they saw your name on the RPSDC flyer and voted for you. To date, it sounds like it’s been a darned good decision by the La Mesa voters. If county voters want new taxes, they can start a ballot proposition or unseat you (they won’t if you hold the line on new taxes).

    “Annulling that right appears to me to be the antithesis of good government. 19 people in a board room should not decide for all those living in the County whether or not they want a tax increase. The people should decide”

    Where did this tax scheme originate? Certainly not from the people. If it did, SANDAG would have been presented with a signed petition.

    This is where I get worried when I hear endorsed Republicans say what you just said. It assumes that your job is to propose taxation rather than to secure liberties–this is a common mistake elected officials make.

    “Do something” about (insert problem here), the planners plead (usually in response to a problem your predecessors created) and elected officials think “well, we must do SOMETHING because there is a problem. The people can’t figure it out for themselves”

    This is the antithesis of Liberty. Yes, your current opinion of what “good government” is, is the antithesis of what most liberty-loving conservatives believe.

    I’m thrilled you will be rejecting this ridiculous tax scheme and hope I have an opportunity to meet and speak with you one day. Might I send you a copy of “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat? It would be my great honor to share it with you.

  3. Kristine, I am guessing Craig has a copy of Bastiat but in the event I can be Brian’s surrogate I would be honored to walk a copy over to you.

    Thank you Brian for your articulate defense of our our property. I don’t believe anyone reading this post believes we aren’t taxed enough. I don’t wish all of my neighbor’s who are hoping for a Trump, Sanders or Hillary victory to have an opportunity to vote more of my property to the state. “We already gave at the office for transportation”. I need Kristine to do what she is very capable of doing, representing us on SANDAG by defending us from more plunder.

    We have been taxed plenty for roads at the federal level but for some reason it is not finding its way back to San Diego.

    Brian, this was what my question to Sen. Lee on Saturday was all about. His Transportation Empowerment Act was an attempt to use federalism to phase out federal involvement in our roads and move the jurisdiction of transportation back to the states. As I pointed out, it has been stuck in committee, a REPUBLICAN controlled committee, since June.

    Kristine – I encourage you to defend our property rights. Bold colors, not pale pastels. Help restore our “brand”. Our right to vote doesn’t supersede our neighbor’s property right. The values of the electorate concern me more and more. If we weren’t plundered so much already I could sympathize with your approach.

  4. Hi Brian,

    Just a few things to set the record straight.

    ” Agreed. The people “decided” when they saw your name on the RPSDC flyer and voted for you.”

    There were no flyers from the RPSDC when I was elected, I was not their endorsed candidate. They refused to endorse in a two way race between two non-incumbents (the other person seeking the endorsement finished last in my race). I paid my own way and sent out my own flyers. So the RPSDC, quite frankly, had nothing to do with my election, the La Mesa voters did though. I ran as a proud Republican, a conservative, and won.

    “Where did this tax scheme originate? Certainly not from the people. If it did, SANDAG would have been presented with a signed petition.”

    In essence it did, signed by the 2/3 rds majority vote that passed Transnet Two. It originated in the ordinance that enacted Transnet Two” . There is language stating SANDAG is to put another ballot measure on within four years or find alternative funding for habitat conservation (they appear to be just a tad late in doing so). Now that of course has been morphed into something else, something which goes outside of the scope of the language regarding habitat conservation in the enacting ordinance of Transnet Two, but that’s where the idea started.

    This raises an interesting question. If you are an RPSDC endorsed candidate and sitting on the SANDAG Board and by the words contained in Transnet Two have an obligation to put a tax increase on the ballot what do you do? If just voting to put it on the ballot makes you a “tax and spend Republican” how do you square that with the pre-existing obligation (voter approved) to do it?

    Another question — If you need a new freeway where does the money come from? The state has basically taken everything they can from local government. The federal government controls most of transportation monies. As Eric points out they don’t easily find there way back to San Diego. A basic explanation is that to get them, just asking is never enough, you have to prove that you have the ability to match funds. They don’t just give it out if asked. SANDAG to it’s credit, has done good job in leveraging the tax payer approved sales tax increase to get money from the feds ( at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio, depending on what it’s being used for) and used it for things that we need, freeway expansions, new roads, new on and off ramps.

    As I hope you can appreciate, the complexities and nuances go far beyond just saying No New Taxes. To me that’s an easy way out that feels good and solves little. The hard way standing up against ideas that are creating the waste of the existing taxes and again ensuring that if there is to be a tax proposal for any reason, that it is for things that really matter to people, not progressive-driven boondoggles.

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    “There were no flyers from the RPSDC when I was elected, I was not their endorsed candidate”

    Fair enough. Did you seek the endorsement? This is an important distinction because, if you did, you should understand that RPSDC opposes any and all efforts at new taxation. If you did seek it, will you do so again?

    “In essence it did, signed by the 2/3 rds majority vote that passed Transnet Two.”

    Good grief! You are reaching back to 2004 to justify a new tax? A lot has happened since then including a pretty big, grass roots movement called “Taxed Enough Already”

    ” If just voting to put it on the ballot makes you a “tax and spend Republican” how do you square that with the pre-existing obligation (voter approved) to do it? ”

    YOU were elected in 2012; that was six years after the TransNet Two authorization and right in the thick of the Taxed Enough Already movement. If you can’t see that YOUR election, as a proclaimed conservative Republican, was a repudiation of new taxation, I am actually worried.

    ” If you need a new freeway where does the money come from? The state has basically taken everything they can from local government. The federal government controls most of transportation monies.”

    I”m not worried, I’m terrified now. TAKE IT BACK. Seriously, STOP LETTING STATISTS STEAL MONEY WHICH HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO YOU BY THE TAXPAYERS.

    Nobody said this was going to be easy, Kristine but, if you aren’t up to the task, just say so. I’m sure someone will be willing to stand up for the taxpayer and against the tyrants.

    This isn’t about “feeling good”; this is about theft (as you so aptly pointed out). The big question is, “Will you yell ‘Stop, Thief’ or continue to look the other way because it’s easier to do that?”

  6. Brian,

    You asked where the idea of the proposed SANDAG sales tax increase came from. I explained that quite clearly, it was in the enacting ordinance for Transnet Two. Yes that was in 2004, but that is where the idea came from. It’s been discussed at SANDAG since the passage of Transnet Two. This proposal isn’t some new thing that just popped up randomly. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    I’ve been keeping our City Council up to date on this ever since I was appointed to the SANDAG Board. It was discussed during the approval of San Diego Forward, the Regional Plan (which assumes a “new revenue source”).

    “TAKE IT BACK. Seriously, STOP LETTING STATISTS STEAL MONEY WHICH HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO YOU BY THE TAXPAYERS.”

    Seriously, How do you propose a local government official do this? Shall I put a couple million into an an initiative drive to change state law?

    Yes, I sought the party’s endorsement and yes I understand and agree with the anti-tax platform. But, as I explained in my initial response, I believe the voters who have the legal right to make decisions on taxation have the final say. You seem to be confusing being against taxes with giving voters a right to decide.

    If you want representatives that traipse all over the people’s rights (and yes, the California constitution gives exclusive purview of sales tax increases to the voters, not the legislators), ignore prior will of the voters, ignore existing law, by all means support them. As John Adams said “We are a government of laws, not men” and when men choose to ignore those laws we destroy our Country. Being a conservative is far more than simply saying “no new taxes”.

  7. Wow, kudos to Kristine Alessio for countering Brian Brady’s misleading statements with facts while standing up for the voters previous decisions and their right to decide in the future. I love it when political parties pull their endorsements thinking they know better than the voters, only to see the candidate that lost the endorsement run a feisty campaign as the voters ally and win, beating the establishment candidate. Endorsements don’t meant squat compared to actual votes and the voters who provide them.

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    “Wow, kudos to Kristine Alessio for countering Brian Brady’s misleading statements with facts while standing up for the voters previous decisions and their right to decide in the future.”

    This is a dishonest statement.

    1- I never said that voters don’t have the final say; I said the tax scheme did not originate with the voters.

    2- The voters previous decision was made 14 years ago; 4 years prior to Prop 8–we know how that changed. Elections have consequences

    3- I agree that endorsements mean less than votes but Republicans on SANDAG, who vote to put this on the ballot, should expect a conservative challenger this November. I promise you that I will communicate to the voters that the incumbent voted to raise their taxes

  9. “I promise you that I will communicate to the voters that the incumbent voted to raise their taxes”

    How can you say this if the incumbent is simply voting to let voters decide? What if voters vote down the tax increase? Wouldn’t it be dishonest to claim the incumbent raised taxes if it ends up the voters voted it down?

    And even if voters do approve the tax increase, doesn’t that mean the *voters* decided to raise taxes, not the incumbent?

    And can politicians ignore all voter passed ballot initiatives that are 14 years old or more, or is it just ones related to taxes?

    Why not just focus the anti-tax message on the ballot initiative itself? The only reason I can think of is that you don’t trust that the tax payers themselves oppose it, and would rather a minority get their way by threatening a politician with refusing to endorse.

    I also find it interesting that you took the time to respond to *my* comment and not to Kristine Alessio’s final comment. She makes great points, and if anyone accuses her of raising taxes simply by supporting putting a tax increase on the ballot for *voters* to decide, it’ll be pretty easy to expose that person as being deceptive.

  10. When was the last time politicians voted to put a tax DECREASE on the ballot — to “let the voters decide”? They almost never do — it has to be done via the signature gathering process. Think Prop 13.

    So we don’t have a level playing field. Politicians regularly vote to put tax increases on the ballot (often at the behest of special interests — primarily the labor unions), but it costs a ton of money for anyone to put a tax DECREASE or even a tax limiting measure before the voters.

    And BTW, a tax increase on the ballot is almost always accompanied by a hugely lopsided spending battle, with the “rent seeking” Big Government touts usually outspending opponents by over 100 to 1 (think school bonds). Moreover, governments spend money on such tax increases via thinly disguised “informational” campaigns. SANDAG has been doing this for years. This mismatch is the result of the concentration of benefits, and the dispersal of costs.

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