North Bay Leadership Council is taking a stand, as a matter of policy and the times we are in, to oppose ALL tax ballot measures for the November 2020 election cycle. To be clear, in taking this stand, we don’t oppose the stated purpose of any measure – our opposition is rooted in timing of being in an economic crisis, and a desire to see wise governmental spending and rational planning for the future.
There are a lot of impacts from the pandemic shutdown, re-opening, shutdown again and the resulting recession. To help combat these impacts, there has been federal relief monies for the unemployed and businesses shutdown, as well as state and local monies to help businesses and residents, including tax paying delays, eviction moratoriums, and other ways to help reduce the burden on those so gravely affected by this economic crisis. Providing relief is what is needed and should be continued. We need more relief, not more taxes.
NBLC, along with the leaders of the business/employer community, have been meeting with governmental agencies asking for financial and regulatory relief and pushing back on government actions that will add new fees, taxes or mandates. We have clearly stated that now is not the time to add any more costs or regulations as businesses and residents are on the brink of survival. To that end, NBLC and other business groups wrote a letter to the Sonoma County Transportation Authority in April asking them to not place a sales tax measure on the ballot this November. We met with Supervisors and asked them to not place any sales tax measures on the ballot this November. Unfortunately, the elected officials have turned a deaf ear to the business leaders and are moving forward with new sales tax measures. Now the cities are also adding sales tax measures to the ballot for November.
The timing is wrong to ask the businesses and residents of the North Bay to reach into their empty pockets to fund a mishmash of tax measures in these uncertain times. The second shutdown has caused an increased sense of urgency to get the Boards of Supervisors and the City Councils to pay attention to the needs of the even more impacted business/employer community. In addition to fumbling the economic recovery planning, local governments have been looking at increasing paid sick leave (the Santa Rosa Council already did this), continuing a moratorium on evictions without any relief for the landlords, and other unfunded mandates. While ignoring the business/employer community, they are now asking the business community to support multiple tax measures on the November 2020 ballot.
By opposing all tax measures, the business/employer community shows that there are consequences for ignoring this community and assuming we will always give support and funding for the ballot measures, especially those we have cautioned against. This is not about what the ballot measures are slated to fund, it is about hitting people with new taxes when they can’t afford it, the government not using the funding they have wisely and asking the business/employer community and the taxpayers to be their ATM. And if we want to have our position taken as seriously as the unions, social justice advocates and environmentalists, we need to take a stand like they do.
Please note, that as employers, we have had to cut staff and expenses, but local governments have not done the same to the degree we have. Public pension fund liabilities have not been addressed and are growing, draining taxpayer money from the general fund that could be used to pay for the things that taxes are being raised to do instead. Given the loss of revenue from the pandemic-induced recession, government needs to get its “house” in order and be strategic about their priorities and how to fund them. There is a finite capacity for business and the residents to pay taxes, let’s ensure that they are being levied for the most important priorities. Also, it is well known that sales taxes are regressive, so lower income people and the unemployed are more impacted.
By not passing taxes in this election, there is time to assess the situation when there is less uncertainty and confusion due to the uncharted waters we are in today. By the next election in 2022, we hope that there will be an acknowledgement that the business/employer community needs to be heard so we can work with our local governments on finding appropriate funding solutions that we could support.
NBLC invites you to join us in taking a stand, calling for a 2020 tax moratorium, and actively opposing ALL tax measures for this November election cycle. Again, we don’t oppose the stated purpose of any measure – our opposition is rooted in timing of being in an economic crisis, and a desire to see wise governmental spending and rational planning for the future. We hope to form a coalition with other like-minded groups and individuals. If you are interested in joining the coalition, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please listen to Cynthia Murray’s interview at KSRO: