Vote for things that price externalities
Avoid the tragedy of the commons: put a price on carbon emissions, packaging
waste, miles driven, etc. Anything that has a diffuse negative impact that
nobody pays for must be priced by a government-mandated market.
Vote to fund infrastructure
Due to Prop 13, San Francisco’s (and California’s) infrastructure is
dramatically under-funded. We need to fix our roads, transit, bike lanes, rail
roads, sewer, electricity, etc, etc. Let’s pay for it!
Vote to liberate funds from budget set-asides, to be useful for other purposes
We wish this category showed up more often, but it’s extremely rare. Any time a
budget set-aside is up for repeal, VOTE YES. Let the legislature control
Generally prefer to vote for new taxes, preferably without a set-aside
Due to Prop 13, Californians must vote on all new taxes. This was part of the
“taxpayer revolt” led by Howard Jarvis in the 1970s. It was designed to limit
new taxes by forcing all new taxes to go to a popular vote. The analysis of
Prop 13 at the time was telling: it predicted massive shortfalls in public
funding for schools and local governments. Indeed, this prediction came true.
It’s one of the reasons that the University of California system is no longer
free, and why our primary education system is so bad.
We prefer to vote for new taxes because in a healthier democracy these taxes
would be imposed by the legislature. By the time the tax makes it to the
ballot, it already has support from lawmakers and we should respect that
process by having a strong bias in favor of the new taxes.
When we say “preferably without a set-aside,” we mean that we prefer new taxes
to go to the general fund. Public money in the general fund can be appropriated
during the regular budgeting process and can thus be directed towards whatever
is pressing. Budget set-asides, in contrast, are reserved for the particular
cause and cannot be used if the city experiences a budget shortfall. During the
next recession, for example, we will be forced to spend tax money on trees and
arts subsidies instead of school children and infrastructure.
Generally vote against budget set-asides, which limit the ability of representatives to budget effectively
Closely related to #taxation.new-taxes, but
this doesn’t implement any new taxes. There’s literally no reason a prop like
this ever needs to be on the ballot. The legislature (or Board of Supervisors)
already has the ability to fund programs during the budgeting process. When you
see something like this, it means they found a way to fund a pet project using
language they believe voters will like. We’ll be stuck with that decision in
the next recession because this can only be changed with another popular vote.