Pressure builds against STA's Measure A - 'Don't believe local officials who justify the doubling of the transportation sales tax as an economic stimulus'

Sacramento County Taxpayers Association president Bruce W. Lee tells voters not to be fooled by elected officials. | 

In what was surely going to be a controversial measure on this November's ballot for Sacramento County voters, pressure is steadily building against a sales tax measure that would make Sacramento County one of the highest sales taxed counties in the nation.

The tax increase, currently known as Measure A, is being proposed by the Sacramento Transportation Authority. A multi-jurisdictional entity composed of elected officials in Sacramento County, the STA is responsible for disbursement of previously approved sales taxes to governmental entities in the county.

The STA is in the final stages of seeking approval from the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to place Measure A on the November ballot. The measure is asking voters to approve a one-half cent sales tax increase over 40 years that is expected to generate $8.4 billion for a variety of transportation projects.

To reach this point, the STA has engaged in a two-year process to agree on an expenditure plan should the tax be approved. During the entire process, there have been tensions between STA board members representing urban and suburban interests.

While there was agreement that a large portion of funding the be dedicated to road repairs in the county, there have been deep divisions on how the balance of the funds are apportioned. Urban interests best represented by Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said the plan should address climate change and fund more mass transit while suburban interests typified by Elk Grove City Councilmember and current STA chair Darren Suen have advocated for a larger share of the new revenues be directed to roadway projects like the Southeast Connector road.

Unfortunately for the STA, complicating their pursuit of the sales tax has been the COVID19 pandemic and resulting recession. While STA chair Suen and other board members have tried to redirect the pro-Measure A messaging as an economic stimulus, others are calling those claims misleading.

In a video posted yesterday by Sacramento County Residents Against Measure A (video posted below), who is leading the efforts against the tax increase, several area chambers of commerces spoke out against the measure arguing the new tax would hurt small businesses who have already been adversely affected by the business downturn. Additionally, Bruce W. Lee, president of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, ridiculed the claims made by Suen and other STA board members that argue the tax increase will act as an immediate stimulus for small businesses.

"Don't believe local officials who justify the doubling of the transportation sales tax as an economic stimulus," Mr. Lee said. "Not every elected official is an intellectual genius."

While opposition has grown, pro-Measure A advocates have started efforts to convince voters. Among those was an opinion piece in the Elk Grove Citizen by Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen, who said the new revenues would act as an economic stimulus and address county-wide transportation infrastructure needs. 

Along with the Sacramento Taxpayers Association, disparate groups have joined opposing the proposed tax increase. Among those groups are the Sacramento County Farm Bureau, the Sacramento chapters of the NAACP and National Action Network, and the SacLatino Community Roundtable.

Interestingly, the STA has scheduled a special teleconference meeting for 1:30 pm. on Wednesday, July 15. Although the agenda has not been posted, it is believed the STA will consider removing Measure A from this November's ballot because of the building opposition and poor polling from recently conducted voter surveys.

Regardless of the STA's action, Sacramento County Residents Against Measure A has organized a rally before next Tuesday's Sacramento County Board of Supervisors meeting to voice their opposition to Measure A. 

More information on that rally is available here and registration for the event is available. 

Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.



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D.J. Blutarsky said...

"Don't believe local officials who justify the doubling of the transportation sales tax as an economic stimulus," Mr. Lee said. "Not every elected official is an intellectual genius".

To wit, Council member Stephanie Nguyen wrote (threatened) in a letter to the editor for the Elk Grove Citizen on June 26th that if we vote no on the sales tax increase, we "will continue on the path toward worsening traffic congestion, road conditions and bus and rail service".

So my question is, what have the elected representatives throughout Sacramento County been doing with our sales tax and gas tax money all these years? Why does a "No" vote mean we have to settle for continued worsening congestion and road conditions?

Maybe the developers have to step up to the plate and pay for their own new roads that will benefit their investments; maybe our elected representatives have to re-think their growth-at-any-cost business model; and just maybe, we need representatives that will proclaim that Sacramento County road conditions no longer need to look and feel like driving in a Third World country!

Mr. Lee is right, maybe we need some intellectual geniuses to rise up and say politics as usual is not good enough anymore--the dumb little people have started to catch on!

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