ECA NEWSLETTER 3-12-2020
“Taxation Without Representation”
I got a couple of comments after last week’s Newsletter about why I would “bash” transit dollar increases being proposed in the new Measure M, and then conclude that we would probably support the Measure anyway.
Here’s Some of the Issues To Consider:
- SB1 was passed and the extra fuel excise taxes we pay for a gallon of gas and diesel, only get distributed to Cities and Counties that are “self-help” regarding self-imposed taxation to contribute to their road maintenance. If Measure M goes away, so does our share of SB1 dollars. We would still pay into the SB1 “pot”, but we would get nothing back. Bad Deal!
- It is the California Air Resources Board who comes out with guidelines for Counties to follow as to lowering their GHG’s (GreenHouseGas emissions). CARB recently raised the level they are demanding the Counties to lower their GHG emissions. In order to comply, Counties have to meet the higher reduction rates, or at least demonstrate that they are sincerely trying. With autos and trucks contributing over 60% of the GHG’s, the only way to significantly lower our GHG’s is to reduce vehicle miles travelled. The only quick way to reduce vehicle miles travelled (or show a good faith effort to do so) is to get more people on public transit. This was one of the reasons Measure I was supported by the ECA and “yours truly”, but the voters rejected it. Getting more people on public transit would require cheaper or free fares, and/or more convenience to the “new” public transit rider they are seeking. Therefore, the budgets for public transit will be raised so they can provide more routes and get those routes closer to prospective rider’s home and travel destinations.
- Even though more bike paths do not seem to be a high priority to most of us, it is to a lot of potential voters. Also, the type of bike paths is important to note. Many of the folks I have sat down with and discussed Measure M with, want to see “Category 4” bike paths created. These are ones that, in a simple explanation, offer separated pathways for motorized cars and trucks, self-pedaled bikes and ebikes along with skateboards and scooters, and those that are on foot. At the ECA we kind of should like this concept since it is our firms that would be building those Category 4 bike paths. With the Bicycle Coalition not endorsing the SMART Train tax measure, the reasons for their lack of support need to be realized-they did not like the promise of lots of bike paths that did not get built. So, it is important to consider their wishes or risk them not supporting a revised Measure M.
- Finally-without a “big anchor tenant” like widening of Highway 101, which is what we had in 2004 when Measure M was passed, it will be more difficult to entice voters to vote for a revised Measure M. Most “run of the mill” voters will not care that we will lose SB1 money, or that the only way to lower GHG’s is to get more folks on the bus transit mode of transportation. Most voters will react to “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?” When they consider approving a sales tax measure. In crafting Measure M ballot language, it is important to include a little “something something” for ALL VOTERS, not just those that want to see potholes filled.
Just so you are aware, I have been working diligently with business groups and environmental groups to try to come up with “hard limits” to what we would, and they would, find acceptable. Nobody is going to get either what they “deserve” or what they want. The idea is to craft something that is “PASSABLE” by the voters. If Measure M goes away, we will really be screwed with “taxation without representation”.
That’s All Folks
As everyone is aware, the Coronavirus is impacting every facet of our lives. We are no exception. We will cancel our Board Meeting for March (which was scheduled for March 17, 2020), and instead, we will hold an extended Executive Meeting with our Officers to determine a few items:
- Do we suspend Public Officials Night to be rescheduled later?
- Do we have our Board Meetings “call in” rather than in person when we renew them in April?
These are big issues and I need our Exec opinions to deal with them. I hope this Newsletter finds you and your family well, and that your business is not getting hurt too badly. Let’s hope we get a handle on this Pandemic quickly and we can go back to living our lives but with some health care changes. Get healthier, wash your hands more often for starters!!