This week's topic: Should San Diego put in place a half-cent sales tax to help close the city's budget gap?-- Ed.
Quient's Punch: The city’s budget deficit is estimated at $72 million for FY2012, and nearly $70 million for the two years after that. Think about that for a second. Continuing on this path could be devastating for the city, with essential city services, including public safety, bearing the brunt.
The choice is not an easy one: Bring in more revenue through increased taxes or continue to cut vital city services. The cuts the city has been making for years are already having heartbreaking consequences -- just this week, San Diego Fire Rescue did not reach a choking toddler in time to save his life because of the department’s cost-cutting “brownouts.”
At the end of the day, voters should get to choose. A citywide ballot measure that is easy to understand so the people can decide whether they want more cuts to public safety or are willing to pay an extra half-cent. One thing is clear: Maintaining the status quo is not an option.
Lund's Punch: Placing a half-cent sales tax on the city of San Diego to close the budget gap would be like giving an alcoholic a drink during rehab to “help with the pain.” It’s counterproductive and damaging to the overall success of our city. I can understand why the members of the City Council Rules Committee voted to bring this before the council, but I think that those members should have had the sense to say no instead.
Clearly, Californians -- and especially San Diegans -- did not want a statewide sales tax implemented to “save our state,” and they will not want a local sales tax to “save our city.” They believe our governments must live within their means, just as private citizens have to do. Taking more money from San Diegans during this economic uncertainty is a horrible idea. The city’s bad habits should not become the citizen’s burden.
Quient's Counterpunch: That may be the case, but the voters of San Diego should have the opportunity to make an informed choice, and if enough of them agree with you, an additional half-cent sales tax won’t pass. One additional point: The city’s bad habits have become the citizens' burdens, and as more services are cut, that burden will become heavier. We need bold, innovative solutions from our leaders.
Lund's Counterpunch: The people of San Diego know full well the impact that lavish pensions and overtime expenses have cost. Because of this, the city negotiated ways to save money. The problem with our city is that it is still too expensive to operate, and a half-cent sales tax increase will barely even begin to solve the problem. Real reform is needed to bring our services back.
Jared Quient is the director of project development at AMSOLAR, a local solar energy company that develops innovative solar solutions for schools. He is also the treasurer of the San Diego County Young Democrats and is on the board of the San Diego League of Conservation Voters.
Andrew Lund is the president of the San Diego Young Republicans