The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association told us:
“This proposal is offensive.
Tax elections should not be manipulated by promising the voters a specific purpose while not requiring the 2/3 not needed to pass a “special tax” (that is, a tax for a specific purpose)”
Here’s an article from the HJTA about how California local governments have tried to circumvent the 2/3 vote requirement. One common tactic is to place a general tax on the ballot alongside a second measure “advising” the money be used for the special purpose.
In Siskiyou County, our supervisors thought having two measures would be too complicated for voters to understand. So they added advisory language to Measure G itself specifying money for the jail. Unfortunately for them, if this passes by less than the 2/3 vote, doing this in a single measure seriously weakens the county’s defense to lawsuits challenging the fiction that this is somehow a general tax. Measure S in June required the 2/3 vote yet fell short of a simple majority. Even if Measure G achieves a majority this time, the courts ultimately may not allow it to take effect.
The statewide tax rate in California is 7.5%, and goes higher once a city, county, or other special district approves additional tax. Currently the city of Dunsmuir adds .50% (total 8.00% sales tax rate), and the cities of Mt. Shasta and Weed add .25% (total 7.75%). Total sales tax in a district cannot exceed 2% (9.5% total) with few exceptions – this report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office offers more detailed information for understanding California’s sales tax.
Great for Wall Street, Not Great For Us
Remember leveraged buyouts in the timber industry, and that time your home equity disappeared? Well, those Wall Street people are the same ones profiting when the state shifts prisoners here. Fancy financing “lease-revenue” bonds for jails and prisons have one state agency paying another state agency premium interest using your tax dollars, and pretending that’s “revenue” – it’s not!
Sabotaging county finances starts with draining millions from seven different reserves, then piles on even more high interest debt to finish raising the $210,000 per bed, $858 per square foot jail building costs. There’s no money for the new costs of running it. We can tell what’s going on, and it’s not right.
Seeing the history here of unsupported crime statistics and loose financial controls, can we believe this grand design is the only answer? The jail needs replacement, but instead we have costly plans for constant expansion, tripling its size while businesses leave and the county population shrinks.
Keeps us Broke, Not Safe
A new jail is needed, though not the one they’ve planned. We could support a reasonably sized project, moving funding to more effective measures for addressing underlying causes of crime. Please follow our website and Facebook page for more information as it develops. We are again conducting a vigorous campaign against this ill-advised proposal.
People in rural counties know each other. We’ll stop crime with common sense – dealing with mental illness and addiction through strong intervention and incentives, one person at a time. That’s labor intensive and will create jobs. Massive jail expansion, dumping state prison problems on us, is just a ridiculously expensive gift to Wall Street. Don’t fall for it – vote NO and send the message loud and clear – again!