Mayor urges Legislature to pass soda tax deal and avoid huge local budget cuts
June 25, 2018--Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg Tuesday urged the Legislature to pass SB 872 to protect residents of Sacramento and other California cities from potentially crippling cuts in essential government services.
“I’ve been in politics a long time, and sometimes you have to do what’s necessary to avoid catastrophe,” said Mayor Steinberg. “SB 872 protects the ability of local governments to raise crucial revenue with a majority vote and avoids drastic cuts to public safety, fire and other services.”
SB 872, a budget trailer bill, prohibits new local taxes on soda until the end of 2030. Lawmakers are expected to vote on it Wednesday. If it passes and is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the American Beverage Association has said it will withdraw a ballot measure that would require local governments to obtain a two-thirds vote of the people for any new local tax. General tax measures now require a simple majority to pass.
Such a two-thirds requirement would jeopardize the ability of local governments in California to fund basic services. In Sacramento, it also would make it far more difficult for the city to win voter approval for extending Measure U, the temporary half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2012.
The Sacramento City Council’s Budget and Audit Committee will begin discussion at 2 p.m. Tuesday on what could be done with Measure U proceeds if voters approve its extension in November. If Measure U were not extended, the city would face a budget deficit of nearly $50 million in fiscal year 2020. The police and fire departments would be forced to cut scores of jobs, as would parks and pools.
Mayor Steinberg advocates that the city place a one-cent Measure U extension on the November ballot. The first half cent – about $50 million a year – could continue to be used for essential city services. The second half cent could be used to grow the city’s economic base by investing in public-private partnerships such as the UC Davis Aggie Square innovation campus; building affordable and homeless housing; providing more training and internship opportunities for youth; and funding preschool for Sacramento children.