by Supervisor Sue Frost
On May 14th, the Sacramento Transportation Authority voted to approve an expenditure plan for a local half-cent sales tax increase across Sacramento County by a vote of 11-5 that will very likely go on the ballot in November. I voted “no” for four main reasons, and want to take this opportunity to explain what they are.
First, I cannot for the life of me think of a worse time to tell residents of this County that they need to pay the government more money. Just two days before this vote, Governor Newsom warned that California may see one-fourth of California’s workforce without jobs and that our economic downturn will be worse than the Great Recession. Residents of this County need financial relief, not more pain.
Second, I am fully confident that voters will reject this tax by an unprecedentedly enormous margin, and it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to put a tax proposal on the ballot when we already know the outcome. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, polling told us this tax measure would fail by 13% – and it costs the taxpayers over $1,000,000 to put this on the ballot. We are already going to be faced with a huge number of layoffs, and this will only increase that number for no conceivable benefit.
Third, the residents of this County have been extremely loud and clear on how they feel about this issue. This one item alone received over 750 public comments, and around 700 of them were opposed to the tax increase. The comments came from across the County and came from people from all walks of life. Many people said they would never support a tax increase, and many said they might support one if we were not in the midst of an emergency. But almost all of them agreed that right now this is a bad idea.
Finally, I do not think this tax, if passed, would actually fix our roads to an acceptable level. Even when you exclude all the roads within the Cities in the County, Sacramento County needs an additional $25 million annually just to maintain the roads at their current level. To improve the roads to a standard that people would deem as “good,” we need an additional $65 million yearly. This tax would not even come close to generating the $65 million we need to get our roads to a “good” level, especially when you consider that nearly 40% of this tax would go towards a public transportation system that hardly anyone uses.
The final step this tax needs to take to go onto the ballot is a vote at the Board of Supervisors on July 14th, but unlike the previous vote that needed a two-thirds majority to pass, this one only needs a simple majority. Assuming it passes, this will be on the ballot November 3rd for all voters of Sacramento County to officially vote on. Expect to hear a lot more about this issue from me and others between now and then.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms and Fair Oaks