By Tim Redmond
The mayor of San Francisco made a remarkable statement in his state of the city address. It goes like this, according to the Chron's report:
"I have not met one human being who says we're undertaxed in San Francisco," [Newsom] said.
That's flat-out factually wrong. And I can prove it.
Gavin Newsom has met me on many occasions. He's been to my office, and I've been to his. We've had extensive talks about tax policy. I am a human being, and I'm willing to take a DNA test to prove it.
And Newsom knows that I believe very strongly that we are undertaxed in San Francisco.
I don't think I'm the only human being he knows who believes that, either. As Aaron Peksin, chair of the local Democratic party, pointed out when I called him on this::
I believe that the voters of San Francisco have demonstrated repeatedly that they are willing to accept new taxes. In November, 2008, they closed loopholes on the payroll taxes, increased the real-property transfer tax and voted in a 911 tax. The voters recently chose to tax themselves for an open space and recreation bond, have voted repeatedly to levy taxes against themselves to improve their schools, and I believe the mayor himself is the sponsor of a proposed general obligation bond -- a form of tax -- for this June to improve seismic safety.
There is, of course, a distinction between regressive taxes like sales taxes and progressive taxes (like the property transfer levy). But San Franciscans don't seem to believe, on the whole, that they are overtaxed.
And they shouldn't. Thanks to Prop. 13, California homeowners and commercial property owners pay scandalously low property taxes. Thanks to the Republicans in Sacramento, wealthy California residents pay scandalously low income taxes. Thanks to Ronald Reagan and G.W. Bush, wealthy Americans pay scandalously low taxes.
And as a whole, Americans pay lower taxes than most other industrialized democracies.
That's one reason we have such a weak education system and that the gap between the rich and the poor is so high.
So you're wrong, Gavin. You do know people who think San Franciscans are under taxed. And they're right.