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.