Dead Again - Sacramento Transit Authority's survey shows little voter appetite for multi-billion dollar tax hike

Elk Grove Mayor and STA Director Bobbie Singh-Allen suggested another "citizen-led" multi-billion dollar sales tax might be easier to pass because of lower approval requirements.| 

A survey presented to the Sacramento Transit Authority at their September 14 meeting showed the appeal of a multi-billion dollar sales tax is insufficient for passage in 2024. The survey was conducted after the 2022 defeat of citizen-sponsored Measure A.

Of significance, the 2022 measure needed a simple majority for approval. If the multi-jurisdictional STA sponsors a similar tax hike in 2024, as in 2016, it would require 67 percent approval to be adopted. 

The presentation on the recently conducted survey showed that 55 percent of respondents would support the tax hike. As noted on the survey PowerPoint slide, support is "well shy of two-thirds."

Interestingly, the previous measures put the price tag on the 40-year at over $8 billion. The survey instead posed questions with a price tag of $212 million annually.

The survey of 800 Sacramento County voters was conducted in August. According to Sacramento County Supervisor and STA Director Patrick Kennedy, the Greater Sacramento Economic Council paid for the survey, which EMC Research and Team Civic led.  

In her presentation to the STA board, EMC's Sarah Labatt said the survey found voters in a pessimistic mood regarding the direction of Sacramento County. The issue generating the most concern was homelessness. 

"Transportation and transit do not come up often as top-of-mind issues," Labatt said.

Additionally, the survey showed voters' willingness to increase taxes on themselves continues to decline. When asked if Taxes are already high enough; I'll vote against any increase in taxes, 66 percent strongly or somewhat agreed.  

Of more significance, the survey found opposition messaging has been effective. 

"We do see, however, sensitivity to opposition messaging," she said. "Some of the opposition messaging is quite effective. Especially messages that attack taxes for being too much, not having an end date, for having already been rejected by voters of the county before - those are very convincing reasons and do drive support for the measure down." 

The 2022 Measure A was a so-called citizen-led vote measure requiring only a simple majority. The citizen-led yes on Measure A was placed on the ballot, and the campaign was funded primarily by real estate developers who sought to use the taxpayers' money to build Southeast Connector, which would have benefitted them. 

An unlikely collation of tax advocacy, smart planning, social justice, mass transit advocates, and environmental groups coalesced in opposition. With no campaign cash, the group convinced voters of numerous ill effects of the measure and defeated the well-funded developers' campaign.  

During deliberations, Elk Grove Mayor and STA Director Bobbie Singh-Allen said while an STA-sponsored measure would have difficulty reaching the two-thirds requirement, a citizen-sponsored sponsored tax increase was attainable. She did note Elk Grove votes may not have an appetite for an $8 billion countywide tax increase after she and her city council successfully raised Elk Grove consumer taxes in 2022 by $23 million annually in perpetuity. 

"As a mayor, to go back to my city, would be hard pressing," Singh-Allen said. 

Sacramento County Supervisor and STA Director Pat Hume said, "This goose is cooked. We need to walk away and give the voters a rest and live to come back and ask them another day." 

The item was informational, and no action was taken. However, Sacramento County Supervisor and STA Chair Rich Desmond noted a subcommittee will meet again to recommend whether or not to pursue another multi-billion dollar tax hike in 2024. 

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Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

STA should change their name from Sacramento Transit Authority to Sacramento Taxation Authority.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Sacramento County Supervisor and STA Director Pat Hume said, "This goose is cooked. We need to walk away and give the voters a rest and live to come back and ask them another day."

TRANSLATION: The housing market has cooled significantly and my developer buddies aren't pressing for any more taxpayer subsidized roads at this time.

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