Local tax measures continue to garner widespread support

Following up on my earlier point about the success of local tax measures as a counterweight to the “tax revolt” framing, there’s more evidence to add to the list.

To begin with, voters in Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (a wealthy enclave in Los Angeles County’s South Bay that is part of Dana Rohrabacher’s district) approved a parcel tax of $165 a year for four years to fund their local public schools.  The semi-final results were 68.61% for, and 31.39% against, with 42.34% turnout–not bad for a vote-by-mail only special parcel tax election.

These aren’t the final numbers–there will be a small number of ballots that have yet to be counted that were dropped off at a local drop-off station, as well as any late-arriving stragglers, and these will be counted Friday (if you want to be the first to know, follow @lacountyrrcc on Twitter–I’m such an elections junkie that I choose to receive their updates via SMS).  But assuming that these numbers hold up, PVP will be the second school district to approve such a parcel tax, with La Canada and Rowland coming up next week.  Normally, of course, this type of 2.18:1 electoral ratio would represent a landslide among the electorate, but here in California, it means that the measure only squeaked it out by a couple of points.

In other news, the Ventura City Council approved yesterday putting a 1/2 cent sales tax increase before the voters to fund necessary improvements.  The vote of the Council was nearly unanimous:

Ending weeks of deliberations, the council voted 6-1 to move forward with a general half-cent tax increase, which would expire after four years. A general tax needs only a simple majority to pass. [emphasis mine]

There was little surprise the council elected to move forward; a majority had voiced support for the measure last week and a city-commissioned advisory panel urged them to go to voters in March.

Now, interestingly, the comments are about 90% wingnutty tax-revolt propaganda.  That might lead you to believe that the Council is out of touch with the residents of the City.  But not so, as Calitics poster and Ventura County Star blogger Marie Lakin makes clear:

A RECENT POLL conducted by True North, Inc. confirmed what I already knew: Ventura voters are content here and are willing to invest in their city.

Despite a round of new temporary taxes from the state, nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said they would likely vote for a temporary 1/2-cent hike in the city sales tax to support public safety, libraries, local infrastructure, economic-generating activities and building financial reserves.

This figure has held steady through surveys conducted in May of 2007 and December of 2008. True North talked to 400 likely voters between May 27-31 of this year. (The survey had a 4.86 point margin of error.) The sample was “a perfect representation of your voting electorate,” True North President Timothy McLarney explained.

What else did they find? Seventy-five percent are somewhat or very satisfied with the job the City of Ventura is doing to provide services. Sixty-one percent feel things are going in the right direction in our city, compared with 22 percent who weren’t sure and 21 percent who thought they were going in the wrong direction.

The state didn’t fare as well in the poll, however, with only 11 percent responding that California in general was going in the right direction.

Bottom line: barring a huge change in the mentality of the electorate, the sales tax measure will pass in the City of Ventura in November because people are willing to pay for services just like most people in the country support a public option for health care.  But there’s one thing the voters don’t like: Sacramento.  And local governments agree–one of the main reasons the Ventura City Council is pushing this sales tax is precisely to have a dedicated revenue stream that the State can’t raid.  And if our Democratic leadership doesn’t realize soon that voters don’t mind taxes, but do mind the legislature, then we’re going to be in even more turmoil down the road.

2 thoughts on “Local tax measures continue to garner widespread support”

  1. I agree with everything both you and Marie said up until the very last sentence. I don’t mind the legislature.

    In Athens, citizenship was quite limited. It was a city state with a small population for starters. Citizens had to be men, and fairly wealthy. This meant you also probably had a good education and leisure time to go to the agora to listen to debate, discuss things with fellow citizens, and vote. Rome was similar, with citizenship limited to the city, despite their vast empire.

    There are 25 million people in California. Few of us have the leisure to read or listen to all the debate. So a representative democracy makes sense.

    What I DO mind is when citizens are not represented by those who are supposed to do it. As this post and your last one point out, and Marie’s reinforces, Californians are willing to pay for the services we want. As Brian points out in a separate post, many state residents–like me–have been here for a long time. We tend to return and to stay. This is our home and we care about it. We are willing to pay for a brighter future for the state we love.

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